Posted : 2017-04-20 18:28
Updated : 2017-04-20 18:28

KGC, Samsung to open KBL Championship series Saturday

Anyang KGC coach Kim Seung-gi, left, and Seoul Samsung Thunders coach Lee Sang-min pose with the Korean Basketball League Championship trophy at the league's headquarters in Seoul, Thursday. The two teams will compete for the title starting Saturday. / Yonhap

By Baek Byung-yeul

The 2016-17 Korean Basketball League's (KBL) Championship battle will be between the regular season champion Anyang KGC and the Seoul Samsung Thunders.

The KGC, who topped the regular season standings with 39 wins and 15 losses, made the Championship series five days earlier than the Thunders after defeating the Ulsan Mobis Phoebus 3-0 in the best-of-five second-round playoff series, Friday.

In the KBL, the top six teams in the 10-team league are eligible to advance to the playoffs and the first two teams in the standings automatically advance to the second round of the playoffs.

The Thunders, third in the regular season, advanced to the second-round playoff series after defeating the Incheon ET Land Elephants with three wins and two losses and made the Championship series having another full best-of-five set with the Goyang Orion Orions. The Thunders won 91-84 in Game 5 Wednesday night.

The KGC will open Game 1 of the best-of-five series against the Thunders at its home Anyang Indoor Arena Saturday.

It has been a while for both teams to make the Championship series.

This is the first Championship appearance for the KGC in five years since the team claimed its first crown in the 2011-12 season. It took eight years for the Thunders, who finished runner-up after losing to the Jeonju KCC Egis in the 2008-09 season.

The KGC coach Kim Seung-gi said he is convinced of victory.

"We are aiming to win both the regular season title and the Championship title for the first time since the foundation of our team," said Kim during a press conference at the KBL's headquarters in southern Seoul, Thursday. The coach said he expects his team to win the series 4-1.

The Thunders coach Lee Sang-min also refused to yield an inch saying his team will win the series 4-2. "As we won four games and lost two in the regular season, I would like to end the series 4-2."

Though Lee showed his confidence, it will likely be a tough series for the Thunders players who will test their stamina. To reach the Championship series, the Thunders played 10 games during the past 20 days while the KGC only had three.

The two coaches already hold the champion rings as players. Both as point guard, Kim won the ring in the 2002-03 season with the Wonju TG Sambo Xers, now called the Wonju Dongbu Promy. Lee, arguably one of the most popular basketball stars in the nation topping the All-Star voting for nine consecutive seasons, won the Championship title three times as a player.

Whoever wins the title, the winner can etch his name into the league's history book for winning the Championship title both as a player and as a coach for the second time following former Egis coach Hur Jae. Before stepping down in 2015, Hur won the title twice as a player and another two times as a coach.

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