Kim Joo-sung said, “I’m grateful for the poor coach and players.”

Coach Kim Joo-sung, who led the team to the top of the regular league in his first year as the official coach of the Wonju DB in professional basketball, gave credit to the players, saying, “I’m a poor coach, but I think I played the season well so that I could learn more.”

“I’m very happy. I’m thrilled,” Kim told reporters after winning 107-103 at the 2023-24 professional basketball regular season home game against Suwon KT in a close game against them. “I was nervous but I feel a bit different.”

DB, which won the game on the day, recorded 38 wins and 10 losses, confirming its regular league No. 1 ranking regardless of the results of the remaining six games. DB became the seventh player in its history to rank No. 1 in the regular league, including the days when it was Sambo (former player). It also clinched No. 1 ranking in the regular league after 48 games, becoming the second fastest in its history to clinch No. 1 ranking in the regular league. It also left a chance to win its fourth wire-to-wire championship in its history.

Its significance was all the more significant since it was not a team that received much attention in the opening game. In fact, DB ranked seventh last season, which was outside the playoff qualifiers, and Coach Kim Joo-sung also set its sights on spring basketball, not championship. However, DB did not miss its No. 1 ranking throughout the entire season, and eventually stood tall at the top with six games left in the regular season.

Kim’s emotions are all the more fresh as he has led the team to No. 1 in the regular league as a coach as a DB one clubman. “When I first came to Wonju, I didn’t expect to be there for more than 20 years. At first, I didn’t even know where Wonju was. I just thought it was far away. Now it is the first hometown that I have lived the longest in my life. I think the fans are cheering me on and encouraging me more,” he said smiling.

“When I won the championship as a player, I liked it by jumping up and down, but it’s a little disappointing that I can’t jump up and down as a coach. If I win the combined championship, I’ll jump up and down, I’m happy with both my player and coach days, but I think I’m happier now because he made me better than I was,” he said with a smile.

He cited his lackluster performance at the last Cup championship as his momentum to rank No. 1 in the regular league. “I think the Cup was the biggest turning point of the season,” manager Kim Joo-sung said. “I said I worked hard in my own way, but I had a very disappointing game at the Cup. I thought about what to do with the players as I came back from the bus. I was very angry with myself,” he said.

“The next day, we had video meetings for four to five hours each. I will conduct intensive training while talking with the players,” Kim said. “I think the turning point was that we had intense training for the next three to four days ahead of the opening of the tournament. It is the same with Sono match in Goyang, but I think we gained momentum by winning against Busan KCC at home.”

The most memorable player in the process of being ranked No. 1 in the regular league was captain Kang Sang-jae. “I think I’ve come this far because I broke away from my personality as captain and led my seniors and juniors well even though I’m in the middle of my age,” manager Kim Joo-sung said with a smile. “Kang Sang-jae has skills, and I’m very proud as a coach because he’s in full bloom this year.”

“Didrick Lawson is such a great player that I can’t even evaluate him. He is a high-quality player who tries to make up for the parts that I am not good at and parts that I am not in a good condition. I think our team is maintained to this extent because of that player. He is such a big player,” he raved.

I also gave credit to coaches Han Sang-min and Lee Kwang-jae. “I don’t think I could have done it alone. I had heated discussions with coaches Han Sang-min and Lee Kwang-jin, and communicated with them while raising my voice. Rather, I think the coach made it more interesting,” Kim said. “There is nothing that a coach can do alone. He has a lot of passion for basketball. He always works hard with me. I have fun learning from each other.”

As the team has confirmed its regular league No. 1 ranking, it is now necessary to think about the management plans for the remaining six regular league games. “I need to consult with the coaches. Kim Jong-kyu has a bad knee, and he needs to plan well and adjust the time rather than just taking a break,” Kim said. “It is more difficult who will be the opponent in the playoffs. I will keep a close eye on the remaining games.”

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