Park Ji-soo’s KB returns to the top of the league after two years

The Cheongju KB of the Women’s Korean Basketball League (WKBL) won the regular season and the championship trophy in the 2021-2022 season, a feat they called “winning it all”. Just as they seemed to be building a dynasty, KB suffered an unexpected downfall the very next season. Park Ji-soo, 25, a 198-centimeter “national treasure” center who was named the Most Valuable Player (MVP), was limited to nine games due to panic disorder and injury. His absence was painful for the team, despite the adage that no player is greater than the team. Without Park, KB finished the season with just 10 wins and 20 losses in 30 games, falling to fifth place out of six teams. The team was crowned the overall champions and lost the title to archrival 스포츠토토 Asan Woori Bank.

The desperate KB vowed to restore their pride with the return of Park Ji-soo ahead of this season, and with a healthy Park Ji-soo, KB was too strong for any team. KB won the WKBL regular season title in 2023-2024, returning to the top after two years.

KB, led by head coach Kim Wan-soo, won 68-60 at home against Busan BNK in the 2023-2024 regular season of the Korean Women’s Professional Basketball League on Thursday at Cheongju Gymnasium in Chungcheongbuk-do, South Chungcheong Province. With 24 wins (2 losses), KB clinched the early regular season title over second-place Woori Bank (19-6), regardless of the outcome of the remaining games. The championship prize is worth 50 million won. This is the second time KB has won the title since the 2021-2022 season and the fifth time in its history (2002, 2006, 2018-2019, 2021-2022, 2023-2024). The victory also extended KB’s home winning streak to 14 games, the longest in franchise history. The longest home winning streak in the entire women’s professional basketball league is 16 games, set by Shinhan Bank in 2012 and Woori Bank in 2015.

KB’s “ace” Park Ji-soo, who has made a complete comeback, has been a dominant force in the league, leading the team to the regular season title this season. Park, who had averaged 21.2 points (1st), 5.6 assists (3rd), and 15.7 rebounds (1st) per game prior to this game, became the first player in the history of the Women’s Professional Basketball League to win the regular season’s first through fifth round MVP awards. She earned her 18th career first-round MVP award, extending her lead over second-place Kim Dan-bi (34, Woori Bank – 12) to six. Park, who will attempt to win the All-Round MVP award for the first time in her career with the rest of the season, also secured her fourth regular season MVP title. She is looking to solidify her status as the “best player of all time” in women’s basketball. On the day she clinched the title, Park also recorded a ‘double-double’ with 13 points and 15 rebounds to secure the victory.

In addition to Park, Heo Ye-eun (22), who has become an ‘ace guard’, national ‘three-point shooter’ Kang Isul (29), and captain Yoon Yoon-ah (36) have also played their part in making KB the strongest team in the league. The team has been at its best against rival Woori Bank, winning 4-1 in five meetings this season. KB’s eyes now turn to the championship game. KB, which is in the hunt for the title, has won the title twice before, in the 2018-2019 and 2021-2022 seasons.

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