Vangel struggled in the opener.

스포츠토토The Daegu KOGAS Pegasus lost 62-87 to the Ulsan Hyundai Mobis Phoebus in the opening game of the 2023-2024 regular season of the Korean Basketball League at Dongcheon Gymnasium in Ulsan on Nov. 21.

GAS, anchored by acting head coach Kang Hyuk, faced a major setback in the form of an injury to Isaiah Hicks in the KBL Cup. The team had already lost a number of internal free agents, so the loss of Hicks was a huge blow.

Acting head coach Kang Hyuk’s debut as a professional coach with only one foreign player was a big test. Gasworks played well against Hyundai Mobis in the first quarter, but they fell apart in the second quarter. Their power inferiority was evident in both offense and defense.

The opening game was a bruising one, but there was a silver lining. Starter Samjosef Belangel struggled to get going, finishing with 20 points and four rebounds. He was nearly as efficient, making 9 of 11 free throws.

Acting head coach Kang Hyuk said before the game, “(Samjosef) Belangel was not in good shape in the Cup, but he has been improving in practice. I asked him to do the shaking part.” He expressed his expectations.

His coach’s faith was not unrewarded. He was aggressive from the start, mixing floaters with mid-range jumpers and attacking Hyundai Mobis with a high-percentage offense. He was the driving force behind GAS’s seesaw game in the early going. Even in the third quarter, when the atmosphere was completely over, he tried to turn the tide.

As the first Filipino Asian player in the KBL, Belangel joined Gasworks with high expectations, but he ended his debut season in disappointment as he exposed a number of weaknesses. The team’s performance was also poor, so his presence was somewhat lower than other Asian quarterbacks.

This season, with the transfer of Lee Dae-sung, he was given a bigger role and showed growth from the offseason practice games. He was much more aggressive on offense than he was last season, and he also showed improvement in other areas, including defense. GASCO is in need of a domestic player who can solve the scoring problem.

Kang Hyuk said after his difficult debut as acting manager, “At least Belangel did a good job. He is more active than last year, and his defense and team play are much better,” he said.

GASCO does not currently have a solid backup to support Vellangel. Until Kim Nak-hyun returns from his stint in the business world, there’s a lot of work for him to do. Otherwise, they won’t be able to find the strength to overcome the winter that has arrived early.

After losing their first game, GAS returns home to face LG on the 28th. Can Belangell continue his performance from the opening game against LG?

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