Kim Dan-bi, “The youngest member of the national team, no worries!”

The Korean women’s national basketball team is preparing for the Asia Cup in Sydney, Australia, and the roster is younger than usual. Veteran Lee Kyung-eun (Shinhan Bank) is back, but the addition of Lee So-hee (BNK) and Lee Hae-ran (Samsung Life Insurance) to the roster makes it three players born after 2000.

The younger roster could lead to a lack of stability and experience. In recent decades, Korean women’s basketball has been characterized more by veteran leadership than by generational change, so there may be some concern about the composition of the team for this tournament with Olympic qualification on the line. But Kim Dan-bi (Woori Bank), the national team captain, dismissed the issue.

“The captain of the national team is definitely a position of greater responsibility. But right now, I don’t have to do anything extra. Honestly, I don’t do anything other than ‘cha chi’ and ‘salute’ when greeting people before and after sports,” she laughed.

Rather, “I’m not leading them, they’re looking out for me,” he said, expressing his faith in the younger players.

“Sometimes there are videos of me playing in my first year on the national team, like an algorithm, on YouTube that I don’t recognize, and when I watch them, I think I was really fearless. In fact, when you have a certain amount of experience, your opponent will adapt and prepare for you, but when you are young, there is almost no such check, so I was able to do it without fear. I think the younger players on our national team are capable of doing the same.”

“On the contrary, it can be harder for the opponent to deal with younger players in the game. Personally, I think it’s great for younger players who haven’t been exposed to the opposition to play in penalty shootouts.”

So which young player is she most excited about? Kim Dan-bi has the same expectations for the youngest members of the team 메이저놀이터.

“The youngest is (Lee) Hae-ran, and above her are (Lee) So-hee and (Park) Ji-hyun, all three of whom can play their roles. Honestly, I think the three of them can play well together. Ji-hyun has strengths in international competitions, and So-hee and Hae-ran can be tricky for first-time players,” he said.

“Then there’s (Park) Ji-soo… who has a lot of international exposure. She has a lot of international exposure, but she still needs to play. There is no reason. He just has to play.”

In the early days of national team training, Kim Dan-bi has been focusing on improving her conditioning rather than practicing with the other players. Along with Lee Kyung-eun, who has a nagging injury, coach Jeong Sun-min has been careful to slowly increase the pace.

“I was called up during my vacation, so I’m not in good shape,” Kim said. When I try to push myself, I feel a little pain in my knees and ankles, which are already injured. When I look at my younger siblings, who are in the same situation, I feel like I’m getting older. Seeing them running so well and being so energetic is actually helping me mentally. I’m trying to get my body in shape for the Asia Cup.”

Only a top-four finish at the Asia Cup, which also features established Asian powers Australia and New Zealand, will qualify for the Paris Olympics. The Asia Cup also doubles as an Olympic qualifier.

“There is pressure in that sense,” Kim said. One of the things I felt while going to the Tokyo Olympics was that if we can somehow qualify for the Olympics, women’s basketball will be more visible to the public and become more popular, so I feel like we have to get results,” Kim said.

“I jokingly tell my juniors, ‘We’re done. You are the hope. Jisoo and Jihyeon may be young, but they have plenty of national team experience. It’s never been easy for them. I will do my best to prepare well with my sisters so that women’s basketball can be on the Olympic stage again. When you play for the national team, more fans are interested in you, and I hope they will support and encourage you even if you are not good enough. I promise to be stronger, take responsibility and work harder.”

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