After the unexpected interest and excitement that I felt after watching the Sakers on Christmas Day I went to my second game this week. This time I went with a group of friends from around Changwon. We bought tickets for 13,000 won (£7) on excellent seats just behind one of the baskets. Todays opposition were Ulsan Mobis Phoebus who are a few spots below the Sakers in the league standings. Basketball in Korea is unlike all sports in England, you can bring your own beer! It is a pleasure to not be ripped off by overpriced lager in flimsy plastic cups! So, as the game began I tucked into my beer and watched Ulsan storm into a ten point lead. The Sakers were slow to start and looked sluggish. in particular, the big 44 one of the two foreign nationals you are allowed to name in your squad. A few of our group know him from around the bars and his fellow American T.J. Cummings. T.J. would appear to be the more popular player with the expat fans due to his work ethic but the poor guy only managed to play twenty two seconds of the game. Alexander’s downfall appears to be his sluggishness in attack, specifically his reaction to rebounds. He kind of walks and runs funny and is aptly nicknamed “chicken legs”.
The game ran on and the Sakers; similarly to the game on Christmas Day, saved their comeback to the last quarter. This is where the drama started. After managing to nearly cause a scene by falling over the seats in front of me and nipping to the restroom I was pleased to see the lead cut to four with five minutes to go. Incredibly the Sakers took the lead and went into the last ten seconds with a two point gap. Unbelievably Ulsan scored a three point shot on the buzzer! But, there was something wrong…being sat perfectly behind the basket myself and my friends were sure the shooter had encroached into the two point zone! This would take the game into overtime. We were also fortuitously sat next to a cameraman (this game was being broadcast on MBC a national sports channel). It was evident from the replays being shown on his monitors that the shot was a two and not a three. An hour and a half of drinking had lubricated our voices and fuelled our support. We protested, the players protested and the crowd in the main stands soon realised the refereeing mistake. As confusion ensued courtside the cameraman; much to our oblivious enraged eyes, sneakily pointed the camera on the slightly more vocal enraged expat section than the reasonably polite protestations of the Korean stands. I received a call virtually the same time as Bryan who was sat next to me. It was Sam, who was watching the game on TV. He told me we were live on television and had been for sometime; and of course to stop making such fools of ourselves!
The referees in Korean basketball it turns out are unable to overrule themselves with television evidence; even if it is immediately available to them courtside, similarly to football. They made a swift exit before a few plastic bottles rained down from the stands and the opposition also fled, delighted by their apparent thievery. The Sakers management continued to feverently but fruitlessly protest. The crowd slowly dissipated and we went off to drown our sorrows, play pool and eat free BBQ at the bar!