TORRELODONES (FIBA U19 Basketball World Cup 2017) - Korea will be playing at the FIBA U19 Basketball World Cup for the fourth straight time. And Yang Jae Min says he and his teammates will have a sense of duty of representing Asia at Cairo 2017.
Yang played at two tournaments in 2016, also guiding Korea to eighth place at the FIBA U17 World Championship 2016 as the team’s second-leading scorer with 14.3 points. And the 17-year-old is looking forward to another global event in Cairo from 1-9 July.
"I always enjoy playing against other countries. I always feel many things after the tournament."
The Seoul native says Korea is going to Cairo to improve on their best-ever showing.
"We practice and prepare all competitions for the best finish. I would like to finish better than 11th," Yang said referring to the country’s top finish of 11th place in 2007.
The 1.98m forward knows it will be a major test for Korea, which has been drawn into Group A with European champions France, Oceania winners New Zealand and a team from the Americas.
"We are not tall players but we have many technical players with good skills."
We practice and prepare all competitions for the best finish. I would like to finish better than 11th." Yang
Yang also believes Korea are on the way to possibly passing China as the top team in Asia - especially after beating China at the FIBA U19 Basketball World Cup 2015 and the FIBA U17 Basketball World Championship 2016.
"I think my age of players is better than China. I wonder how much progress will be made in the next few years. That will decide how we will be moving on," Yang said.
Yang himself is currently going through a very beneficial but challenging time as he is experiencing his first season in Spain playing for Torrelodones.
"The language is the hardest part. I have been frustrated because I cannot communicate smoothly at training or in the outside world," Yang said. "I have also felt that adaptation is difficult in places where there are no Asians."
"Playing against the ACB’s second teams is fun. The players are mostly young. Therefore I try to play with more confidence," Yang said. "I am learning a lot on defense and also moving without the ball."
Yang also said he is working on his shooting as well as his one-on-one game.
Yang is also learning mental toughness as he deals with the difficulties of being in an entirely different culture and not really speaking the language adequately just yet.
When asked what Koreans would find difficult about moving to Spain he said: "I think it’s the language. I feel a lot of loneliness. There are so many difficult parts, more than you think. So you must be strong and patient."
In the end, the experience will benefit Korea because they will be getting back a Yang Jae Min who has been through plenty of battles on and off the court.
"I will be more confident in myself," he said.
More confident to help Korea do a good job representing Asia in Cairo.