Terrific 12: Seoul Samsung Thunders down ex-teammate Markeith Cummings and Nagoya Dolphins to finish third in Macau
K League team beat Japanese rivals 105-93 in Studio City Event Centre preseason tournament third-place play-off
Familiarity was an advantage for the Seoul Samsung Thunders in their third-place play-off encounter with the Nagoya Diamond Dolphins in Macau on Sunday evening, according to head coach Lee Sang-min.
“We’ve played Nagoya a lot,” he said after their 105-93 win, “as we have training camps in Japan nearly every year.”
“Maybe that took the pressure off,” he added, ahead of their K League opener in three weeks.
The Thunders also knew what it would take to stop former teammate Markeith Cummings, a player that captain Kim Tae-sul described as a “good penetrator” but they were aware of what was needed. Even still, he admitted that the “local players had a hard time stopping him”.
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Cummings posted 29 points for the Dolphins despite the attention but Kim was pleased with the Thunders third spot for an injury-hit team who were missing players in Macau to the point where he “wasn’t worried about the outcome” at the tournament.
“The ability to get back from a harsh situation is what we have learned from this tournament. We hope to keep this rhythm for the regular season in the KBL.”
It was a thought echoed by teammate Benoit Mbala, who put up 27 points. After putting the disappointment of the semi-final loss to Guangzhou Long Lions behind them, he was happy to have won and “get ready for the KBL” which he described as a “different situation”.
Dolphins coach Shingo Kajiyama expressed his disappointment with his defence, despite having fixed problems with the offence from their semi-final loss.
“Giving away 105 points, our defence came out a little softer than we had hoped for,” he said.
“Looking back on this whole tournament, it was a really good experience for our team. We found we were able to improve and at the same time find the problems that we do have which we need to improve in the near future.”