“I’m excited to grow with my new team,” said Moon Sung-gon, who joined Suwon KT as a free agent after leading Anyang KGC Ginseng Corporation to the unified championship in the 2022-2023 professional basketball season.
“When I was with my old team, I came here a few times to play practice games, but the feeling is different from then,” Moon said during a visit to KT’s training gym in Suwon, Gyeonggi-do, on the 25th. “When I came here today, the feeling is new and there seems to be more excitement.”
Moon Sung-gon, the league’s best ‘defender’ who won the best defensive award for four consecutive seasons, averaged seven points and 5.5 rebounds in the regular season for the Ginseng Corporation in 2022-2023.
Selected by Ginseng Corporation with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2015 rookie draft, Moon Sung-gon is the team’s franchise star and was expected to remain in free agency, but opted to join KT.안전놀이터
The terms of the contract are for five years with a total of 780 million won in compensation in the first year.
The terms are better than the first year’s total compensation of 750 million won for Oh Se-geun, who left for Seoul SK after sharing the championship with Ginseng Corporation. We’ll have to wait until June, when salary negotiations for non-FA players end, but for now, he has the potential to become a “salary king.
“KT told me a lot of things, and I felt like it was a team that would grow together,” Moon Sung-gon said, “I was in Busan during the free agency period, and even though I could have come up and signed with them, they came to Busan themselves.” He appreciated KT’s sincerity.
He explained that there are many players at KT that he is close to.
“Han Hee-won and Choi Chang-jin were my draft motivation, and there are many close players like Choi Sung-mo, Ha Yoon-ki, Park Joon-young, and Jung Sung-woo,” he said, “and I feel like this is a team that will grow with me.”
“(Heo) Hoon-i is a league MVP-level player, but I think he can grow even more in the future, and I hope the other players can do the same and grow into a steady powerhouse.”
“I felt that once you win one or two games, you feel like you’ve won it all,” Moon said of KT from the outside, adding, “I had that feeling in the quarter-final playoffs last season.”
At the time, KT, which was directly in the quarter-finals, faced Ginseng Corporation, which had come up through the sixth round, and after KT won the first game, Ginseng Corporation won games two to four.
“In the first game, Ginseng Corporation lost, but they fought well without Omari Spellman, so I thought they deserved it,” said Moon. “They have players like Heo Hoon and Ha Yoon-ki who can play a role on the offensive side, so if I can reduce the burden on them on defence, it will create a better synergy.”
Although the phrase ‘league-leading defensive ability’ is sometimes misunderstood as ‘a player who only defends’, Moon Sung-gon said, “I don’t expect to suddenly increase my offensive attempts, but rather focus on what I’m good at and defend, and if my finger injury improves through rehabilitation this year, it will naturally balance out to some extent.”
The Ginseng Corporation, which has become a ‘chinjung’, has undergone a number of changes to its squad after the 2022-2023 season.
Oh Se-geun and Moon Sung-gon became free agents and left for other teams, while Yang Hee-jong’s retirement and Byun Joon-hyung’s enlistment weakened the team.
“I felt a little bit sad,” Moon said, “I received a lot of supportive messages on social media, and I usually get a lot of abuse, but this time I saw a lot of messages from people saying, ‘Please stay,’ and I was also happy because I thought, ‘I was a player who was loved like this.
He set “restoring honour” as his goal for the new season with KT.
“We were eighth last season, so we need to restore our honour,” Moon said. “Our goal is to become a steady powerhouse that can go to the championship game for three consecutive years like Ginseng Corporation.”
“First of all, this year is the beginning, and I want to go to the quarter-finals at least while playing basketball this spring, and the championship game will require some luck, but I will try,” he vowed.
As for the pressure of being the ‘salary king’ so far, he said, “The only way I can overcome it is by working hard.”
“The evaluation will become colder, and I have to overcome and prove myself,” Moon said, adding, “I think I will continue to be criticised no matter how much I make or how good or bad I am, and I will accept it as love for me, and I will try to do my best.” He predicted a new start for the 2023-2024 season.
With KT yet to win a championship, basketball fans are eager to see what kind of difference Moon’s three-time championship experience with Ginseng Corporation will make.