YONGSAN GARRISON, South Korea — Welcome to the big leagues, kids.
That was the message conveyed Saturday by the Yongsan Raiders, an interservice basketball team in the Korea Traveling League, as they downed the Seoul American High School boys team 89-59 at Falcon Gym.
But that’s exactly what Falcons coach Steve Boyd wanted — a more fast-paced, physical game than his club normally gets in Korean-American Interscholastic Activities Conference action.
“They thumped us pretty good,” Boyd said. “It was really physical. But there’s a silver lining in losing by 30. In the long run, it’s going to help us. It toughens you up, forces you to be more aggressive.”
It was the beginning of a busy holiday season for the defending Class AA Far East boys champions, most of whom are staying put for the two-week holiday break, which began Friday.
After a five-day rest, they’ll play in the Yongsan Holiday Classic, a five-day tournament for company-level adult teams. That will sandwich the school’s annual alumni game, slated for Dec. 29.
“We’ll get some good games in it,” Boyd said of the Yongsan tournament, which guarantees his team two matchups. “If we can get three, four or five, I’ll be happy.”
On Saturday, the Raiders used a 7-0 run to grab a 15-point halftime lead and cruised from there.
“They played a variety of defenses on us, so we got to use a lot of skills that I’ve been teaching,” Boyd said, adding that such games are good preparation for the Class AA Far East Tournament, which the Falcons host Feb. 16-21.
“They pressed us three-fourths of the first half, full court. We had a few turnovers, but I’m looking at the big picture. It’s going to help us. Nobody at Far East is going to press us like they did.”
Boyd got another double-digit scoring and rebounding performance from Luis Feliciano, who had 21 points and 13 boards. The junior forward is averaging 14 points and 10 rebounds per game.
Daniel Chicko added 10 points. Jake Abramowitz added 13 points and eight rebounds. Pressed into point-guard duty when starter Jay Higgins jammed his thumb, and with backup Jamal Mohn in the United States on holiday, Abramowitz added six assists.
Boyd believes Higgins will be OK.
“I wasn’t going to take any chances,” he said.
“I wasn’t totally disappointed” in losing, Boyd added. “We were within 15 but we ran out of gas. The conditioning is not there yet. I’d have liked the score to have been a little closer, but we did some good things.
“We’ll get where we need to be by Far East time.”