The Hyundai Capital Skywalkers fell to the Korean Air Jumbos in their opening game of the 2023-2024 V-League. However, new signing Ahmed Iqbairi (27) scored the most points for both teams and showed promise for the upcoming season.
Hyundai Capital lost 0-3 (25-27, 22-25, 23-25) to Korean Air on Thursday in the opening match of the 2023-2024 Dodram V League Men’s Division at Gyeyang Gymnasium in Gyeyang-gu, Incheon.
In last year’s championship matchup, Korean Air swept Hyundai Capital for the fifth consecutive season, despite being without top outside hitter Jeong Ji-seok and expected middle blocker Jeong Ji-joo.
Hyundai Capital kept each set close, but were unable to overturn a mid-set deficit in all but the first set, suffering a shutout humiliation. The lack of form from main hitter Jeon Kwang-in and the move of apogee spiker Heo Su-bong to middle blocker led to a sharp drop in scoring. While Ahmed scored 30 points with a 50.94% attacking success rate, Heo Su-bong added 10 points, Fei Chang seven points, and Jeon Kwang-in one point.
After the match, Hyundai Capital head coach Choi Tae-woong said, “There were too many unforced errors. I think our lack of training showed today. Heo Su-bong was not good in the attack and Jeon Kwang-in was out of shape.”
“I think the guys are definitely ready to start the season, and it was great to see them turn on the lights and fight to the end,” said Korean Air head coach Tommy Tilikainen.
While both coaches expressed their satisfaction and disappointment, there was one area of agreement. It was the performance of Ahmed, who was the top scorer for both teams. Ahmed broke into the Korean V-League last season with Samsung Fire as the No. 1 overall pick in the foreign draft.먹튀검증
This season, he moved to Hyundai Capital as the second overall pick and changed his name from Iqbairi to Ahmed. The first game was very satisfying, especially as they erased their weaknesses in the backcourt offense and scoring after the 20th point. Ahmed showed even scoring with a high attack success rate in each set, with 16 points in the front row and 11 points in the back row, and he also showed a strong backbone in crucial situations after the 20-point mark, converting five out of seven attacks.
Coach Choi Tae-woong said, “Ahmed played really well. He seems to have established himself as a team atmosphere maker, and I like that. He’s a good player,” said Choi, while Tilikainen, who coached Korean Air to its second consecutive overall victory, praised Ahmed without being asked, saying, “Ahmed is so good for Hyundai, it was a fun and good match today.”