Yang Jae-min (24, 200 cm) earns his first senior national team call-up.
The Korea Basketball Association announced the 16-man roster for the men’s national basketball team’s reinforcement training for the 2023 FIBA Olympic Qualifiers and the 19th Hangzhou Asian Games in a press release on Saturday. Heo Hoon (Commerce), Ra Gun-ah, and Lee Seung-hyun (KCC) were all included, but one name stood out. Yang Jae-min plays for the Utsunomiya Brecs in the Japanese B.League. A regular on the age-group squad as a youngster, he was given a chance to prove himself in the senior national team for the first time.
In a phone conversation with us, Yang said, “It’s my first senior national team selection and I feel very honored. I am grateful for the opportunity to play for my country. I was selected for the youth national team every year from my second year of middle school to my third year of high school. So I know how honored I am to play for my country. It’s been a long time since I’ve worn a national jersey, so I feel like I have to work even harder to prepare,” he said of his selection to the national team. 안전놀이터
Yang’s selection to the national team came after a strong request from head coach Chu Il-seung. Chu had been keeping tabs on the player since March, when he attended the East Asian Super League (EASL) Champions Week in Japan. With the team’s penchant for using forwards, it’s a great opportunity for Yang, who stands at 6-foot-2 and can shoot from the perimeter as well as play defense.
“The national team is not a place to showcase my basketball. I don’t think playing forward will change much. I need to quickly grasp and understand the kind of basketball coach Chu Il-seung wants to play, so I can help the team.” Says Yang Jae-min.
The 16 players selected for the team will take part in an exhibition game against Japan on July 22 and 23 at Jamsil Student Gymnasium. The Japanese men’s basketball team is expected to include naturalized player Josh Hawkinson, who played with the Shinshu Brave Warriors. Utsunomiya ace Makoto Hiejima will also be traveling to Korea.
Yang said, “Hawkinson was the friend who helped me the most when I first went to the B.League. When he decided to naturalize in Japan, he was the first to tell me. We told each other to work hard and try to make the national team, and I think it will be a good experience to meet him this time. Hiejima and I became close in Utsunomiya. We often had meals together and went to watch baseball together. It would be interesting to meet on the other side. It will be a fun match for the fans to watch.”
The 16 players, including Yang Jae-min, will enter the Jincheon Athletes’ Village on June 21. They will have about a month to improve their physical condition and maximize their organizational skills.
Yang Jae-min said, “The national team is something I’ve dreamed of since I was a kid. Living abroad gave me motivation when I was struggling and wanted to give up. I may not be able to show outstanding performances right away, but I want to improve my physical condition as much as possible and integrate into the basketball that coach Chu Il-seung is pursuing. If I get the chance to play in the trial against Japan, I will do my best to make sure that I am not lacking in anything.”