※ This interview was conducted on November 19, 2022, and was published in the December 2022 issue of Basket Korea Webzine. (Link to purchase Basket Korea webzine)

Park Joo-an tried to play basketball as a hobby. He said, “He originally only intended to play basketball until the 6th grade of elementary school. But if I quit like this, it seemed like there would be regret. So he decided to give it a try.” Park Joo-an, who tried to quit basketball due to frequent injuries in his first year of middle school, grew into an indispensable player during the hwabong. Park Joo-an, who overcame difficulties with his sincerity and hard work, is still sweating for his championship.

When did you start playing basketball?
Basketball started because of my older brother. His older brother is 8 years older than me and he likes basketball and watches it a lot. So naturally, I also started watching basketball. Then, when I was in the 4th grade of elementary school, I wanted to learn basketball, so I went to a basketball club and felt the charm of basketball there. In fact, at first, I had no intention of playing basketball properly. I put meaning in building good memories while doing it as a hobby.

Was there a reason you decided to play elite basketball?
Since middle school, I tried to study. So I thought it was the last competition when I was in the 6th grade of elementary school, so I practiced hard and did my best to prepare. I went to the competition like that and it was so much fun. I did well and the team performance was also good. I only played two games because of Corona, but I recorded 1 win and 1 loss and recorded 2nd place. I recorded the most points and most rebounds on the team. It was a pity that the contest ended like that. So I thought about it and decided to continue playing basketball.

You went to Hwabong Middle School. I was researching the
elite basketball team and thought Hwabong Middle School was the best. So I went to Hwabong and took a test. My skills were lacking, but I think the director picked me because I worked hard.

How was your first experience of elite basketball?
It was so different from what I used to do for fun at the club. The training was physically difficult, and the tactics were complicated, so my head hurt. (Laughter) And since it was my first time exercising like that, I got hurt a lot. It wasn’t a big injury, but my knee hurt and my foot hurt, so I took a break from exercising.

How did you feel at that time?
Actually, it was very difficult. I felt sorry for my parents and felt unfair. First of all, I tried to quit basketball because I was bad at it. Whenever that happened, the hyungs who worked out together came to listen to me and comforted me a lot. And my friends and coaches always gave me good energy. So I overcame that period by thinking positively.

Then, how was your performance in first grade?
In fact, in my freshman year, I didn’t play for the first three months because of the penalty. Still, I studied the games with a learning heart. Thankfully, the coach generously gave us a chance in the practice game. So I was able to play a lot freely. But it took me a long time to adapt to the team.

When did you adapt to the team?
In fact, I still think it’s not enough. My team does a lot of press defense, but there is a part where I can’t keep up. Still, if I have to choose, I think I started adapting to the team from the winter training in the first year of middle school. At that time, I played a lot of practice games. And I was really upset. And I learned a lot. It seems to be the point where you start to realize what basketball you think is. Still, I played as a main player from middle school.

How are you doing these days?
I am now in my 3rd year of middle school. There are no other hyungs, so we are the best. There, I took the captaincy this time. So it takes more responsibility. These days, I am focusing on physical training, but it is very difficult. (Laughter) But as a captain and senior, I’m doing my best for the training atmosphere. And in night training, I focus on shooting. My shooting is lacking and I want to do better.

What do you think are your strengths?
I work out harder than anyone else. It seems that sincerity is the greatest weapon. (Laughter) In fact, there are many things I lack, so I exercise like that. Shooting also has its advantages. Also, the coach emphasized the bad things a lot, so I’m paying attention to the bad things. But when it’s hard, there are times when bad things don’t come out. One of the biggest strengths seems to be creating a good team atmosphere. We are trying to make the atmosphere fun and fun to exercise. Now other players have been influenced by it, so the atmosphere seems to be quite good. (Laughter) To that end, I always go one step further. Even when it’s hard, I work hard to participate in the fast break and try to play altruistically.

The team’s performance this year was very good.
Last year, I had very good results with my brothers. He won all of the federation president’s term, association’s term, and youth athletics. In fact, my brothers played a lot of roles, so I didn’t contribute much in the game. Still, it felt great. And above all, I was proud to be on this team. Even though the hyungs went out, I want to get good results this time too. I want to convey the feeling I felt to my juniors. 메이저놀이터

What’s your goal?
I want to be a player who helps the team when it is difficult in karate. I want to reduce shot oscillation and score 3s efficiently in every game. And most of all, I want to be a player who leads the team to victory.

PS What is Park Joo-an seen by coach Kim Hyeon-soo in Hwabong?
First of all, there is sincerity and leadership. At first, I wasn’t very good at shooting, but I overcame it with effort. He is the most sincere player. Watching him work hard, I felt that he was a player with potential. ‘Sincerity’ seems to be Park Joo-an’s greatest strength.

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