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Heo Woong (Busan KCC), the top star of the Korean men’s professional basketball league, who led the team to victory in the championship game at Anbang, gave credit to the 10,000 fans who filled the stadium.

Heo Woong met with the press after the third-round home game of the championship finals against Suwon KT at Sajik Gymnasium in Busan on Jan. 1 and said, “I’m really grateful for the fans’ support. I feel like the basketball boom has happened again,” Heo said with a smile.

Heung scored a team-high 26 points, including three 3-pointers, and dished out seven assists in the third game to lead KCC to a 92-89 victory. His performance helped KCC take a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven championship series.

On the day the championship game was held in Busan for the first time in 17 years, Sajik Gymnasium drew an official crowd of 10,496 fans. It was the first time in 12 years since 2012 that a single professional basketball game drew more than 10,000 spectators.

The matchup between Heo Woong, the most popular player in professional basketball history (5 times) and the top of the All-Star ballot for three consecutive years, and his younger brother Heo Hoon (KT), who is one of the best players in the league, was a box office hit.

“When I’m mentally struggling or feeling down, the fans‘ shouts send chills down my spine and give me strength,” said Heo, who cheered on the gathered fans. “It would be great if the same basketball enthusiasm as when I was a ’kid’ watching basketball could return now that I’m playing.”

“The ultimate goal is for athletes to be valued,” he said, “but in many ways, including marketing, athletes are not valued yet, except for certain people. I would like to see basketball and athletes become more valuable and have the title of ‘best’.”

He sent a ‘respect’ to his younger brother, who played full-time 안전놀이터 for the second straight game despite his injury. He poured in a team-high 37 points on the night.

“I don’t think he’s called the ‘No. 1’ point guard for nothing. He’s the best,” Heo said, adding, ‘I recognize his passion, determination, skill, and everything else.’

As for the focus on the ‘brothers’ matchup, he said, “It’s not just about playing for the championship against Hoon, it’s a very important match for me. I don’t want to miss the chance to win the championship,” he said, emphasizing that he is ‘playing every game throughout the playoffs desperately and calmly.’

“I’m not going to think about the fact that we’re up 2-1 in the series, but I’m going to approach every game with the mindset that we’re starting over,” Heung said, adding, “I’m going to let my guard down and give everything I can, whether it’s at home or away.”

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