“I think I’ll be back at the end of July at the earliest, and I hope my teammates can hold on until then.”
As the 2023 Korean 3×3 schedule kicks off, the team that stood out the most was Hanwool E&C. Founded in 2018 and still playing in the 3×3 scene today, the team boasts a tight-knit group of founding members, including Bang Seong-yoon, Ryu Kyung-sik, Lee Seong-hoon, and Lee Seung-bae, who have been together for nearly five years.
Until last year, the team had a strong image as a perennial second-place team. After repeatedly falling short at the threshold of victory, the team won the first round of the KXO League and the Korea Tour Seoul at the start of the 2023 season.
In the KXO League Round 1 finals, Ryu Kyung-sik hit the game-winning two-pointer of a lifetime to lead the team to back-to-back titles.
At the heart of Hanwool E&C’s ascendancy is its organization. The team, led by its eldest brother Bang Sung-yoon, has been together for nearly five years, and last winter, while other teams were taking a break, the team continued to train consistently, resulting in their early season surge.
In particular, the team’s absolute dominance this year, winning three of their four head-to-head matches against Skynet Inje, has turned the Korean 3×3 landscape from a three-way tie between Skynet Inje, Hansolemicon, and Hongcheon Epin into a four-way tie.
However, the seemingly endless rise of Hanwool E&C was halted by a hosadama. Main gun Bang Sung-yoon suffered a muscle tear during a match and left the team.
While blocking an opponent’s attack during the Korea Tour Invitational, Bang suffered injuries to his shoulder and chest due to a collision with an opponent, and after a medical examination, he was diagnosed with a muscle tear. The injury was more severe than expected, and it was reported that Bang will not be able to return to action until at least the end of July.
His unexpected departure is especially painful as he was at the peak of his powers in the first round of the KXO League, leading the league in scoring and two-point shooting.
“I fouled to prevent the opponent from scoring, and I got an unexpected injury in a contact situation. I was diagnosed with a muscle tear,” he said, adding, “I’m most sorry for my teammates. I feel very sorry for them because we need to stay together and continue our upward trend. I want to recover quickly and return to the team,” he said, expressing his apologies for his injury absence.
Hanwool E&C, which must now compete in the second round of the KXO League on the 10th of this month, brought in Jung Heung-ju, a non-selected player with good shooting ability, as a replacement for Bang Sung-yoon. Jung Heung-ju has decent skills, but it’s not easy to fill Bang’s shoes 100%.
“After the news of my injury absence, the excitement of winning the championship was gone and depression spread throughout the team (laughs),” says Bang Sung-yoon, who is especially sad because the team was in a good mood after winning two consecutive tournaments this season. I felt even more sorry for my teammates,” he said, adding, “At the moment, I think I will be able to return at the end of July at the earliest. Because I’m older, it takes time to recover (laughs),” he said, hiding his feelings of regret for the team.
After playing with the same team for a long time, Hanwool E&C says that the family-like atmosphere has become the team’s biggest advantage. Bang Sung-yoon also said that ‘family’ is the word that best describes Hanwool E&C, saying, “CEO Kim Soo-young supports us so well, so the players have no choice but to play in a good mood. We don’t see each other as often as we would like because we all have our own jobs, but when the season starts, it’s like a family, and we spend more than half a year together in a harmonious atmosphere. We don’t have a lot of changes in team members like other teams, so I think we have a more affectionate atmosphere,” he said, explaining the cohesiveness of Hanwool E&C.메이저놀이터
It’s been five years since Bang Sung-yoon stepped onto the 3×3 stage. In the early days, he had to fight against the prejudice of ‘I’ll do it for a while and then I’ll stop’.
“I always felt sorry for my fans because I retired early and unexpectedly, so I wanted to do the best I could, and that’s when I met 3×3. Now that I’m older, I don’t know how much longer I’ll be able to play 3×3, but I’m going to give it my all as long as conditions allow. I’m very sorry that I had to miss out due to injury because the team did so well this year. I’ve been telling my teammates to ‘hang in there’. I can’t wait to get back and enjoy being on the court with my teammates again because we had a great atmosphere this year.”