Eric, KT’s dark horse big man, emerges as a force to be reckoned with in the post with Marei

Michael Eric (211 cm, C) has emerged as KT’s dark horse big man.

Suwon KT defeated Changwon LG 73-76 in the third round of the 2023-2024 Korean Basketball Association quarterfinals playoffs at the KT Sonic Boom Arena in Suwon on Tuesday.

With the loss, 토토 KT fell to 1-2 in the best-of-seven series.

KT was eager to continue the momentum from their Game 2 win at home. The team took a narrow lead early in the fourth quarter to set the tone, but a buzzer-beater by Yoon Won-sang (180 cm, G) just before the end of the fourth quarter resulted in a home loss.

Despite the close loss, KT was encouraged by Eric’s performance. Like in Games 1 and 2, KT utilized Eric in Game 3 to defend LG’s post core, Asem Marey.

Eric entered the game in place of Paris Bass (200 cm, F) with 2:32 left in the first quarter. Matched up against Maray, Eric was active on the boards, grabbing two defensive rebounds by boxing out.

In the second quarter, Eric continued to split minutes with Bass. In the short time he was on the floor, Eric focused on rebounding in the post. Eric also showed his ability to utilize his teammates by playing two-on-two with Heo Hoon (180 cm, G) to get free throws in the paint.

After a strong second quarter, Eric took a full rest in the third quarter and was reintroduced at the start of the fourth quarter. With Eric back in the game, KT’s offense gained momentum. Eric was able to score in the paint with a solid post-up against Maray’s close defense. The score gave KT a 64-56 lead and set the tone.

Eric scored six points and two rebounds in the fourth quarter alone, utilizing KT’s height alongside Ha Yoon-ki. Eric recorded the game-winning basket with 1:03 left in the fourth quarter when he was replaced by Bass.

On the day, Eric played 13 minutes and 56 seconds, recording seven points and five rebounds. While this may seem like a mediocre stat line, what was impressive was how he utilized KT’s height by twinning with Ha Yoon-ki (203 cm, C) in the post.

Eric’s time on the court this season was limited to less than 10 minutes as KT’s second option. However, he began to showcase his skills in the final stretch of the regular season as he gradually increased his minutes.

Eric lived up to coach Song Young-jin’s expectations in the best-of-seven playoffs against Hyundai Mobis, where he was evenly matched against Gage Prim (205 cm, C). Eric’s confidence grew in the quarterfinal playoffs as well, with 12 points and eight rebounds in Game 1.

In a post-game interview, KT head coach Song Young-jin expressed his confidence in Eric, saying, “The offense derived from (Asem) Marei was working well, so I think we made a decision to block that part effectively.”

Fans are eagerly awaiting to see if Eric will be able to save KT from the brink.

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