‘Mythical’ 168-centimeter Japanese basketball master falls to a ‘mystic’!

Seoul SK has finished as the runner-up in the East Asian Super League (EASL).

SK fell 69-72 to the Chiba Jets in the 2023-2024 East Asia Super League (EASL) Final Four on Tuesday (local time) at the Hoops Dome in Lapu-Lapu City, Cebu, Philippines.

SK, runner-up in last year’s inaugural event, was unable to lift the trophy this time around. However, they did earn the runner-up prize of $500,000 (approximately $660,000). Chiba will receive $1 million (approximately KRW 1.3 billion) for the championship.

SK was unable to stop Yuki Togashi, Japan’s best short guard (168 centimeters). Choi Won-hyuk and Oh Jae-hyun, who are good defenders, took turns stopping him, but it wasn’t enough. Togashi led the way with 22 points. SK was led by Jamil Warney with 22 points and 17 rebounds. Leon William and Ahn Young-joon added 15 and 18 points, respectively.

Chiba took control early on. SK didn’t score a single point as Chiba came out firing from the start, scoring the first seven points of the game. SK started to pull away with a three-pointer from Ahn Young-joon. Then, Ahn’s driving to the basket came alive to cut the deficit to two points. Winnie, one of the KBL’s top mercenaries, scored a three-pointer to give SK its first lead with just over three minutes left in the quarter. But Chiba had Togashi, one of the best guards in Asia. With brilliant passing plays, breakaways, and timely three-pointers, Chiba quickly turned the game around. The first quarter ended with SK trailing 16-21.

SK failed to catch up in the second quarter. At the beginning of the quarter, both teams engaged in a tense chi battle. SK scored first through Oh Jae-hyun and then through Warney’s shot. Chiba boasted a variety of scoring routes as the game progressed. But as the quarter wound down, SK took control. While Chiba struggled with their shooting, SK’s transition game came alive and they managed to pull away with just over two minutes left in the second quarter. After a back-and-forth battle, “Basketball Tosa” Togashi hit a three-pointer at the end of the quarter. The first half ended with SK trailing 34-37.

SK finally broke through. While SK missed shots early in the fourth quarter, Chiba scored back-to-back three-pointers to take the lead. Point guard Ogawa’s 토토 two consecutive three-pointers hit the rim. While Warney’s shot was off the rim, SK responded with Williams and Ahn Young-joon from the floor. Still trailing, SK tied the game with just over two minutes left in the quarter, and Warney’s layup put them back in front. Choi Won-hyuk then locked up Chiba’s ace Togashi. The third quarter ended with Togashi leading 54-51.

Chiba tied the game with a three-pointer from Togashi, but Warney answered with three points on a basket count. A back-and-forth game ensued. After Warney’s shot missed the rim, Togashi answered with a clean layup to take the lead. He followed it up with a three-pointer to bring the crowd to its feet. SK, on the other hand, missed several three-pointers from Ahn Young-joon and Warney. SK showed a lack of stamina as they committed turnovers in the final minutes of the game. SK pulled within one point in the final minute, but Togashi hit two free throws. The game ended in a 72-69 loss for SK.


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