WITH the influx of Koreans matriculating in various schools in the Metro Manila area during the last decade or so, it’s no small wonder that the more athletic ones have also taken up the national pastime of Filipinos that is basketball.
It did not take long for Korean Youth Basketball to flourish with the establishment of the Lee Sang Myeon Basketball Club. The youth-based club is named after the first player of Korean descent to suit in the local National Collegiate Athletic Association during his stint with the University of Perpetual Help System Dalta Altas during the 2000s.
One of the products of the Lee Sang Myeon Basketball Club is 13-year-old Korean Lim Geon Woo of Montessori De San Juan.
“I started playing basketball when I was eight years old,” said Lim, an athletic 5-7, 154-pound forward. “A lot of my critics discouraged me from playing basketball since I was small and skinny at the time. But I persisted and persevered as my ambition is become the second Korean to play in the National Basketball Association (after 7-foot-3 Ha Seung-jin, who saw action in 46 games with the Portland Blazers from 2004-06).”
“I have worked hard on my game the last few years even as I grew taller and heavier and my skills further enhanced,” added Lim, who was born in Busan to parents Jung Young Mi and Lim Jong Dae.
Lim’s game has expanded under the tutelage of coach Lee, who took him to his club five years ago.
With the LSM Basketball Club, which caters to Korean-born students in the Philippines with ages 12 to 15, Lim once chalked up 68 points in a game and earned a number of individual awards along the way. He earned Most Valuable Player and Mythical Five honors in one tournament for his offensive wizardry.
In an inter-San Juan competition, he knocked in 35 points for his school Montessori de San Juan.
For a high-scoring marksman like him, it’s ironic that Lim finds more gratification in playing defense. “It takes a disciplined effort to play defense as defense never rests,” said Lim, “I have had several games when I could not shoot well but I compensated it with good defense.”
Lim expectedly is enamored with several prominent players from the professional ranks. Among them are Jayson Castro from TNT, compatriot Lee Sung Jun and Rajon Rondo (New Orleans Pelicans) and Giannis Antetokounmpo (Milwaukee Bucks) in the NBA.
“I like the “Greek Freak” Antetokounmpo because he’s all-around player,” declared Lim, noting that the Bucks forward became the fifth player in NBA history to lead his team in points, rebounds, assists, steals and blocked shots in the same season during the 2016-17 campaign.
Lim and the LSMBC team are scheduled to play a series of games in Taiwan this month.