“I really want to win and retire” The wish of the last golden draftee Ham Ji-hoon
Ham Ji-hoon is looking for his sixth championship ring.
The Ulsan Hyundai Mobis Phoebus have been training in Kawasaki, Japan, from Sept. 21 to Oct. 2.
Ham Ji-hoon, one of the most senior members of the team, is also preparing for the season alongside the juniors. He is positive that there are no major injuries among the players.
“We’ve been to the Philippines, and we’ve been training in Japan. We have a lot of new players, so we still have time to breathe. We have a lot of new players, so we still need to work on our chemistry.”
Ham Ji-hoon had a disappointing finish to last season due to injuries. Therefore, he is preparing for this season by taking better care of his body.
“Actually, my physical condition is always the same (laughs). Last season was a bit difficult because of injuries, but this time the trainers paid a lot of attention to me, so I did a lot of rehabilitation on my back and knees, and I’m trying to have an injury-free season as much as possible,” he said.
Hyundai Mobis is continuing to grow as Young Gun gained a lot of experience during the training camp. Ham Ji-hoon is also pleased with this.
“The young players are definitely doing well. I’m looking forward to seeing the young players play basketball well, including (Park) Mubin, who came this time. I’m looking forward to the season with my 99s friends and young players like Mubin and (Kim) Tae-wan-i,” he said.
It’s becoming increasingly apparent that Japanese basketball has come a long way since the investment. What does Ham Ji-hoon, who has traveled to Japan several times, think?
“I’ve been coming to Japan a lot since a few years ago, and I’ve lost a lot since then. The opponents had a lot of foreign players, so it’s not an accurate comparison, but I felt like they played organized and clean basketball.”
In addition to Ham Ji-hoon, Hyundai Mobis has two other big men in Jang Jae-seok and Kim Jun-il. Choi Jin-soo and Shin Min-seok are also available at the four position at times. Ham said he is grateful to his younger brothers for making him feel comfortable playing basketball.
“First of all, (Kim) Jun-il joined the team and I’m looking forward to it. I feel like I’m really comfortable in my professional life. There are so many players in my position, whether it’s during workouts or games, so I’ve been playing basketball comfortably so far. (Jang) Jae-seok and Jun-il have made me feel comfortable now,” he smiled.
On the addition of versatile forward Kebe Aluma, he said, “I’m looking forward to (Kebe) 캡틴토토 Aluma as well. I think he’s going to do well, and I think he’s going to do better if we help him a lot from the sidelines, and he’s a smart player, so I think he can play a good game if we keep up with him.”
Born in 1984, Ham Ji-hoon is now the oldest player in the league beyond his team. He must have felt a lot of pressure after watching his teammate Yang Hee-jong win the title last season. Head coach Cho Dong-hyun also expressed his desire for Ham Ji-hoon to win one more title before retiring.
“I really want to win one last championship, too,” said Ham Ji-hoon. That’s why I have a lot of faith in my 99ers friends this year. They jokingly say that they will win the championship and let me retire, so I’m really grateful for that, and I hope we can win a championship together,” he said.
As such, Ham’s goal is naturally more focused on winning the championship than on his individual performance. The dynasty player has played for one team since joining in 2007, winning four regular season titles and five championships. The 2007 draft, which is often referred to as the golden draft of all time, is just around the corner.
“I’m always grateful to the fans. The goal is to win a championship, and it’s been a few years since we’ve won a championship, but I think it’s time to win a championship for the fans. I will try to win the title by working well together. My personal goal is to win and retire with nothing else.”