Seoul SK, one of the favorites to win the professional basketball title this season, is gaining momentum behind the early “onslaught” of Jamil Warney, 29, the league’s top foreign player.
Warney poured in 30 points, 17 rebounds and five assists to lead SK to a 90-79 victory over Goyang Sono in the regular season at Goyang Gymnasium in Gyeonggi Province on Thursday.
Led by his performance, SK won three games in a row for the first time this season, including the official opening game against defending champion Anyang Jungkwanjang on Nov. 21, followed by a victory over Suwon KT on Nov. 22 and a sweep of Sono on the same day, to take sole possession of the early lead.
SK, which has reached the championship finals in the last two seasons, is expected to be a force to be reckoned with this season after adding one of the best homegrown big men in Oh Se-geun, while keeping most of its roster intact.
Warney’s onslaught in the early part of the season, when Oh was still adjusting to the team, propelled SK to the top of the standings.
Warney exploded for a career-high 46 points and grabbed 11 rebounds in the opening game against Jeong Kwan-jang, followed by 26 points, 13 rebounds, and six assists against KT.
She scored 11 points and grabbed five rebounds in the first quarter before taking a break in the second quarter due to a sore thigh, but came back in the third quarter to lead both teams in scoring and rebounding.
SONO tried to keep SK close by relying on domestic players Choi Hyun-min and Choi Jung-wook to play wannabe defense, but the two players had to leave midway through due to injury and a five-foul ejection, respectively.
Warney has averaged a whopping 34 points, 13.7 rebounds, and 3.7 assists in three games this season. He leads the team in scoring and is second in rebounding behind only Asem Marei (LG-15.5).
Playing exclusively for SK since the 2019-2020 season, where he was named the Foreigner’s Most Valuable Player (MVP) in all but the 2020-2021 season, he’s already heralding his time this season.
After the game, Warney said, “It’s always good to win away from home, especially today because we held them to under 80 points,” adding, “I think we defended well against a team that shoots the 3-point shot well, so it feels good.”
Warney, who described his thigh as not being a major issue, was confident that the environment was in place to improve on last season’s performance.
“Last season, everything was focused on Kim Sun-hyung and I, and we had a lot of spells in both offense and defense, so it was a lot of physical exertion, but this season, with so many players coming in, it’s less. I think we’ve been able to conserve energy and play with more focus,” he said.
“He’s the best big man in the KBL, and I’ve known him for a while, so I’m not too worried. We’re just getting to know each other, but he’s very smart, so I think we’ll be able to do better as the season goes on,” he said, adding, “I think we’ll peak in the playoffs.” 슬롯사이트