The West Grand Bahama basketball star Jonquel Jones is just two games away from a championship in her first foray into the respectable and competitive Pacific Zone environment.
Her Woori Bank team defeated the Blue Minx 72-64 on Thursday to take a one-game lead in the best of five series for the Women’s Korean Basketball League (WKBL) 2017 Championship.
Jones pulled down 21 rebounds, scored 10 points, had two block shots, a steal and an assist in the game, as she continued the consistent stellar play that enabled her to capture the prestigious Foreign Most Valuable Player, the Defensive Player of the Year and earn a spot on the WBKL “Top Five” squad. The foreign players are the best of the WBKL and there is a side story to the series between favored Woori Bank and Blue Minx.
Ironically, the best player on each team is from the Connecticut Sun of the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA). Indeed, center/forward Jones has played one season with the Sun and Blue Minx forward Alyssa Thomas has three seasons behind her. So, this is the one for bragging rights as they get set to pool their resources along with other teammates to strive for WNBA post season qualification this time around under Coach Curt Miller.
For now though, the two are concentrating on the ultimate WKBL prize. Thomas had a really fine game on Thursday. She shot 9-21 from the field and 3-4 from the free throw line for 21 points. Thomas also had 16 rebounds and seven assists in 40 minutes. Her fellow Sun player, Jones, got her statistics in a mere 29 minutes as Woori Bank utilized quality play from the starters and solid contributions from the bench.
Thomas was also selected to the WKBL Top Five.
Today, the teams meet in series game No. 2 and a win by Woori Bank will take Jones ever so close to capping an already terrific season with the WKBL crown. The third game in the series is scheduled Monday, March 20.
Although Woori Bank finished the regular season with a WKBL 33-2 mark and a record for the least amount of games lost, the first game of the championship series proved that Jones and company have to be prepared for Blue Minx to be more aggressive than in the past. In their final season games, Woori Bank defeated Blue Minx by 17 points (72-55) but was in a dog fight for much of the Thursday game before holding tough down the stretch for the 8-point win. The quarters were competitive (18-17 Woori Bank), (21-17 Woori Bank), (22-17 Woori Bank), and 11-13 Blue Minx).
Woori Bank has to put this team away!
Coach Wie Sung-woo used a 10-player rotation in game won, preferring to give his starters a good bit of rest. He might not have that luxury the rest of the way.
In any event, best wishes Woori Bank!
(To respond to this column, kindly contact Fred Sturrup at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on WhatsApp at 727-6363).
Published Saturday, March, 18, 2017