‘Ahn Jun-ho’s’ basketball team defeats Thailand 96:62 in Anbangseo

The South Korean men’s national basketball team, under new head coach Ahn Joon-ho, celebrated its first victory under the new regime with a 34-point win over Thailand at home.

Ahn’s men defeated Thailand 96-62 in the second game of Group A of the FIBA Asia Cup 2025 Qualifiers on Friday at the 스포츠토토 Wonju General Gymnasium in Gangwon Province.

It was the first win of the tournament for South Korea (1-1), who lost 71-85 away to Australia on Feb. 22. The Korean men’s national basketball team has not lost to Thailand since the 1966 Asian Games in Bangkok.

The qualifiers, which will determine the teams that will compete in the FIBA Asia Cup in Saudi Arabia in August 2025, will see 24 nations split into six groups and compete in a home-and-home format through February next year.

The second-place finishers in each group will qualify directly to the main draw, with four of the six third-place finishers also joining them. South Korea (No. 51 in the FIBA rankings) is competing in Group A alongside Australia (No. 4), Indonesia (No. 74), and Thailand (No. 91).

It was the first win for Ahn, who was named the new head coach of the Korean men’s national basketball team last month, marking his return to the field after more than 12 years.

Ahn started Byun Jun-hyung (Sangsung), Oh Jae-hyun (SK), Yang Hong-seok (LG), Kang Sang-jae (DB), and Ra Gun-ah (KCC) in the starting lineup and turned up the pressure from the start.

As Oh Jae-hyun and Byun Jun-hyung, who possess the best combination of size, strength, and speed among Korean guards, pressed relentlessly, Thailand struggled, committing four mistakes in the first three minutes of the game. Outrebounded 7 to 13, Thailand was overwhelmed by both height and speed and fell behind 15-28 after the first quarter.

In the second quarter, Korea’s pressure intensified. With forwards Kang Sang-jae and Song Kyo-chang (KCC) joining the frontcourt pressure, Korea picked up the pace of their offense and scored 16 points on fast breaks in the first half alone.

In particular, they minimized the time it took to drive the ball to the opposite zone after a rebound, creating the effect that the opponent was facing a fast break every time they attacked.

The guard lineup of Oh Jae-hyun, Byun Jun-hyung, and Lee Woo-seok (Hyundai Mobis) also showed great concentration on defense, limiting the field goal percentage of opponent Frederick Lisi to 25 percent.

After building a 20-point lead in the first half, Korea continued to dominate in the third quarter, taking a 30-point lead, 72-42, when Ha Yoon-ki (KT) hit a cool dunk after a steal by Song Kyo-chang.

Ragan, a naturalized player whose “four-way contract” with the national team and the KBL, as well as his professional basketball club Busan KCC, expires in May, played just 17 minutes and scored 15 points.

If the parties fail to agree on an extension, this could be his last game in a national team uniform.

Ha Yoon-ki was also a beast from the floor with 13 points and 14 rebounds. The rest of the forwards also did their part, including Kim Jong-kyu (14 points), Yang Hong-seok (13 points), and Kang Sang-jae (10 points).

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