Reigning Women’s Korean Basketball League (WKBL) MVP Park Ji-su of the Cheongju KB Stars returned to the court for the first time this season on Saturday, five months after dropping out of training following a panic attack.
Park, who is the only current player to play in both the WKBL and the WNBA, reportedly left training with the KB Stars in July and was taken to hospital because she was hyperventilating and showing signs of a panic attack.
Her condition she took her out of the national team training ahead of the 2022 FIBA Women’s World Cup.
Park came back on the court for the first time on Saturday against Bucheon Hana 1Q at Bucheon Gymnasium in Bucheon, Gyeonggi and ended the Stars’ losing streak at five matches.
This was Park’s first game Her in 248 days.
“I am grateful that I can be back on the court,” Park said on Saturday. “I didn’t do anything for the last three to four months and lost a lot of weight and muscle. I returned to training about a month ago. But I don’t think I would have been able to come back if I didn’t have the drive to do so.”
After appearing during the third quarter of the match, Park played for almost eight minutes on Saturday, adding two points and two rebounds for the club.
“I didn’t realize it was this hard to score,” said Park. “But as hard as it was, it made me very happy.”
With Park’s return, veteran player Kang Lee-seul seemed to have found her form back, adding 28 points and 10 rebounds.
On Monday, Park showed up for her second match of the season and led the KB Stars to their first consecutive win of the season over the S-birds. Park scored the Stars’ eighth point in the first quarter. She played for 18 minutes and 25 seconds, scoring 19 points and marking seven rebounds.
Kang, who played for 36 minutes and eight seconds, scored 16 points and 10 rebounds.
“I felt better during training but I don’t think I was able to put that into my game today,” said Park on Monday.
Despite being the reigning champions, the Stars have struggled this season, losing five straight matches without Park. Monday’s win is only the Star’s fourth since the start of the 2022-23 season.
Last season, the Stars put on a dazzling performance, securing the top spot in the WKBL with six games left to play to become the first team to win the season title in 24 games since 2008, when the WKBL first combined the winter and summer seasons .
Despite being the second-to-last club in the league, Park’s return may be the boost the Stars need to get back into the race for the title.
“We are aiming to reach the playoffs for now,” said Park on Monday. “But I don’t want to be greedy and feel too much burden. I know that we as a team will have something to learn even if we don’t reach the playoffs. So I want to go with the flow.”
Park debuted with the Korean team at only 16, the youngest player ever to do so.
Now 23-years-old, Park is already one of the biggest names in the WKBL and one of the few players to have concurrent careers in both Korea and the United States.
She was drafted into the WNBA four years ago, at just 19-years-old, becoming the first Korean player to enter the US league in 15 years. Park played for the Las Vegas Aces in 2018 and 2019, missing out 2020 due to an injury, and rejoining the squad in 2021.
Park sat out the entirety of the 2022 WNBA season and it is unclear if she is going to rejoin the team again next year스포츠토토.
Last WKBL season, Park won her second consecutive regular season MVP award at the 2021-22 Women’s Professional Basketball Regular League Awards, marking not only her second MVP title, but also the third in the 23-year-old’s career. Adding to that already impressive track record, this time Park managed to take the MVP title with a perfect 110 of 110 votes.
Park also topped the WKBL table last season for number of points, rebounds and assists this season. Park had an average of 21.19 points, 14.38 rebounds and 4.81 assists per match, leading the KB Stars to the top of the league and the season title.
Now that Park is back on the court, the KB Stars will try to climb back in the standings this season. They will start with trying for their fifth win against top club Asan Woori Bank Woori Won on Thursday.