Lee Hyunjung looks forward to battling it out with Kai Sotto as South Korea and the Philippines are set to write another chapter to their storied rivalry in the 2021 FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers on Wednesday in Clark, Pampanga.
The Davidson College standout, who stands at 6-foot-7, particularly mentioned the 7-foot-3 slotman as he expressed excitement in the upcoming joust, which will be the first of two duels between the bitter enemies in the June 16 to 20 event.
“I’m really excited about it. Looking forward to playing against them, especially Kai Sotto,” he said in an interview during the team’s photoshoot.
Eyes have been on Sotto since rejoining the national team, with many raring to see how much he has progressed since flying to the United States back in 2019 to further hone his craft for his goal to make it to the NBA.
Apparently, though, Filipino fans aren’t the only ones waiting to see him. And Lee, also a second-generation cager like him, is an example.
The 20-year-old is actually aware of the steps Sotto has taken in his career, such as his decision to sign with Adelaide in Australia’s NBL. And he knows, too, what kind of a player the former NBA G-League Ignite member is.
But Lee isn’t too focused on Sotto alone, as he also wants to compete against the rest of the youth-laden Gilas — and the rest of the field.
“I just heard that he signed with an NBL team. He’s a great player, tall player, and he has a pretty high basketball IQ,” he said.
“But I just want to compete with everyone besides Kai Sotto, like all the great players.”
But aside from facing the Filipino dribblers, what Lee is really excited about is being given the opportunity to play for the Korean men’s team.
The son of 1984 Olympic women’s basketball silver medalist Sung Jung-a was previously a member of the South Kor junior national team, which he led to its first gold medal in the 2015 FIBA Asia Under-16 Championship.
“It’s always a big honor to represent my country and play basketball. So I’m really excited for the Asia Cup Qualifiers,” he said.
“I just have to play basketball, as usual. I just have to play my style, I just have to play hard and just have fun.”