Ahn Jun-ho takes the helm of the Korean men’s basketball team with Seo Dong-cheol


Ahn Jun-ho, former head coach of Seoul Samsung, will take the helm of the South Korean men’s national basketball team.

The Korea Basketball Association held its fifth Performance Improvement Committee meeting for 2023 on March 19, and conducted an interview process for the head coach of the Korean men’s national basketball team.

A total of three teams participated in the interview process, with Ahn Jun-ho and Seo Dong-chul (former head coach of Suwon KT) receiving the highest evaluation scores and being recommended to the board.

The association held the search for a manager-coach pairing for the past 12 days. The organization said it conducted the longest interview and evaluation process ever to transparently and fairly evaluate each candidate’s abilities.

Ahn Jun-ho and Seo Dong-cheol are two coaches who can offer different perspectives in terms of their experience in both men’s and women’s basketball. Seo has experience coaching the South Korean women’s national basketball team.

In addition, Ahn led Samsung to the playoffs in all seven of his seasons in the 2000s. In the 2005-06 season, the team won the championship after sweeping the Ulsan Mobis (now Hyundai Mobis) in a series.

However, Ahn Jun-ho parted ways with the team after the 2010-11 season. With Seo Dong-cheol at the helm of KT until the 2022-23 season, the weaknesses will be addressed, but it’s still hard to ignore the concerns.

South Korean basketball, both men’s and women’s, is in dire straits. The men’s team suffered a disastrous showing at the 2022 Hangzhou Asian Games, finishing seventh, its worst finish ever. The women’s team won a bronze medal, but it was a far cry from the world-class teams of China and Japan. At the Paris 2024 Olympics, both men’s and women’s basketball didn’t even qualify for the final.

It’s understandably worrisome that Ahn Jun-ho, who has been away from the sport for 12 years, has taken the helm in what is supposed to be a new era. It’s not convincing.

The preparation period is short: starting at the end of February 2024, Korea will play Australia and Thailand in the FIBA Asia Cup 2025 qualifiers. Having already lost their ticket to the final qualifiers for the Paris Olympics, the Asia Cup qualifiers are an ‘all-in’ event.

Meanwhile, Ahn Jun-ho and Seo Dong-chul will be confirmed as coaches after deliberations at a board meeting on Jan. 23 next year. Unless they are disqualified, they will effectively take over the reins of the national team.

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