Shinhan Bank Sbird, led by coach Guna Dan, won 76-69 in an away match against Shinhan Bank 2022-2023 Women’s Professional Basketball Round 5 held at the Sajik Indoor Gymnasium in Busan on the 3rd. Shinhan Bank, which defeated leaders Woori Bank and Woori Won on January 30th, took second place BNK that day and tied for third place with Samsung Life Bluemings, narrowing the ride with second place BNK to one game (12 wins, 10 losses). Meanwhile, BNK suffered a disappointing defeat after two consecutive wins, allowing the tied 3rd place teams to pursue (13 wins and 9 losses).
For Shinhan Bank, Kim Jin-young, who played for BNK until last season, played 37 minutes and 43 seconds, scoring 10 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists and 2 steals, performing like Altoran in the offense and defense. Point guard Lee Kyung-eun also contributed with 7 points, 4 rebounds and 5 assists. And Park Ji-soo (KB Stars), who scored first place for the past two seasons in a row, is not playing full-time. The player who is ranked first in the scoring category this season is Shinhan Bank’s new ace, who was a compensation player for free agent Kim Dan-bi (Woori Bank). It’s Sonia Kim.
Woori Bank gave Sonia Kim while recruiting Danbi Kim
Woori Bank finished second in the regular season with 21 wins and 9 losses last season and advanced to the championship after defeating Shinhan Bank in the playoffs. In fact, Woori Bank has not won the championship in the last four consecutive seasons since the 2017-2018 season, when it achieved 6 consecutive victories. For Woori Bank, which claimed to be a ‘dynasty’, it could not but be a result of hurting its pride.
At Woori Bank, Kim Jong-un, the oldest member of the team, is now in his mid-30s, and Park Hye-jin, the key player who led the team to 6 consecutive victories, has already passed 30. It means that there is not much time left for Woori Bank to challenge the championship with the current good members. Woori Bank, who judged that it would not be easy to pass KB, which Park Ji-soo and Kang I-seul held out with their current strength, turned their eyes to the FA market and decided to recruit special players from outside.
The biggest players in the FA market last year were Shinhan Bank franchise star Kim Dan-bi and Hana 1Q player Shin Ji-hyeon. However, Woori Bank did not desperately need Shin Ji-hyun in the guard position because it has national team guards Park Hye-jin and Park Ji-hyun. In the end, Woori Bank recruited forward Kim Dan-bi, the best all-rounder in the league, under the condition of a contract period of 4 years and a total annual salary of 450 million won. Danbi Kim, who had not won the championship for 10 years after Shinhan Bank’s dynasty era ended, also boldly chose to transfer.
All that was left was the reward player. WKBL must give one player to the original team as a compensation player, excluding the four protected players, including the free agent contract player. In other words, it means that one starter must be given away, which meant that Woori Bank, which consists of all national team players, had to transfer one national team player to Shinhan Bank. Free agent Kim Dan-bi, ace Park Hye-jin, and the future of the team Woori Bank, which had already designated Park Ji-hyun as a protection player, agonized between Sonia Kim and Lee-sam Choi.
After much consideration, Woori Bank’s final choice was Lee Sam Choi. Woori Bank excluded Sonia Kim from the list of protected players while signing a free agent contract with Lee Sam Choi for a contract period of 2 years and a total annual salary of 240 million won. And without hesitation, Shinhan Bank nominated Sonia Kim, the league’s top power forward, who ranked 6th in points (16.82 points) and 4th in rebounds (8.21) in the 2021-2022 season, as Danbi Kim’s reward player. As a result, Danbi Kim and Sonia Kim exchanged uniforms.
Growing every season, finally leaping to the top scorer
Sonia Kim, who has a Korean father and a Romanian mother, joined Woori Bank in 2012, but returned to Romania due to family circumstances after only participating in 9 games in two seasons. When there was no news for four years after returning to Romania, basketball fans abandoned their attachment to Sonia Kim. However, Woori Bank returned Sonia Kim ahead of the 2018-2019 season, and Sonia Kim recorded 5.69 points and 6.74 rebounds in her return season and won the Sixth Woman Award.
Sonia Kim, who started playing as a main player in earnest from the 2019-2020 season, averaged 17.17 points, 9.90 rebounds, 3.30 assists and 1.40 steals per game in the 2020-2021 season, which was the third year of her return. After the season, he signed an FA contract with Woori Bank on the terms of a contract period of 3 years and an annual salary of 300 million won, achieving the ‘Korean Dream’. However, Sonia Kim moved to Shinhan Bank as a compensation player when Woori Bank recruited Danbi Kim in May of last year. 메이저놀이터
If the player who was Woori Bank’s top scorer in the 2021-2022 season moved to the team as a reward player, his pride would be hurt, but Sonia Kim showed a smooth adaptation speed at Shinhan Bank and quickly melted into the new team. Sonia Kim, who consistently ranked high throughout the season in scoring and rebounding, rose to the top of the scoring category, overtaking Hyeyoon Bae (Samsung Life Insurance), who had been running first in scoring since the beginning of the season. That’s thanks to his exploding average of 28 points in his last two games.
On January 30, in the match against Woori Bank, her parent team, Sonia Kim, who led her two consecutive victories against Woori Bank by recording 25 points and 12 rebounds, including a come-from-behind final score, with 7 seconds left before the end of the game, played a full-scoring performance against BNK on the 3rd. He led the team to victory. Sonia Kim, who completed 36 minutes and 55 seconds, scored 4 3-point shots with an 80% chance (4/5), leading Shinhan Bank’s winning streak with 31 points, 12 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals and 1 block shot. The 31 points is Sonia Kim’s record for most goals this season.
Sonia Kim, who married Lee Seung-jun, a mixed-race player who was active in men’s professional basketball in 2020, received 1:1 coaching from her husband and her individual skills improved significantly. In addition, her outside shooting ability is also improving as the season progresses, so her three-point shooting success rate, which was only 26.5% in the 2018-2019 season, has risen significantly to 34.9% this season. Of course, competitors such as Kim Dan-bi and Bae Hye-yoon are outstanding, but even if Sonia Kim, the ‘reward player’ this season, becomes the top scorer, no basketball fan will consider it a surprise.