“It was so amazing to see the main gym. It’s because it was too big.”
Ariake Arena is in full swing preparing for the W-League All-Star.
The WKBL Rising Star Team, centered on Park Ji-hyeon (Asan Woori Bank), Lee So-hee (Busan BNK Some), and Lee Hae-ran (Yongin Samsung Life Insurance), departed from Gimpo Airport on the morning of the 28th. After arriving at Haneda Airport in Tokyo, from 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm, we met at the auxiliary gym of Ariake Arena in Tokyo.
The reason why 12 WKBL rising stars joined together in Japan. The Japanese women’s professional basketball league, W League, hosted the ‘W League All-Star 2022-2023 in Ariake’, and the WKBL rising stars consisted of 14 W-League All-Stars on the 29th. It’s because they play event games with the squad.
Ariake Arena, where the match will be held, opened on December 21, 2019. It is a new stadium built for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics by demolishing the Deeper Ariake, which was used as a professional wrestling arena. The Korean women’s volleyball national team has played at the stadium.
It can accommodate about 15,000 people, and a cultural event hosted by CJ called ‘KCON 2022 JAPAN’ was also held. Assuming that the capacity of most stadiums hosting WKBL is between 3 and 5,000, this is a staggering number.
Also, the main court of Ariake Arena was originally used as a tennis court. For this reason, we prepared a wooden court that can be used temporarily only for the All-Star game. It also has two courts in the auxiliary gym. Athletes could train without space constraints.
The locker room used by WKBL’s rising stars was also revealed. There is a downside that there are only 3 shower booths, but the facilities are clean. Also, managers inspected the main gym facilities. We also looked at additional things to prepare for the All-Star Game.
Rehearsals for the All-Star Game were also carried out to some extent. Purple lighting was set up for the entrance ceremony, and the idol group to perform practiced their performance the day before the All-Star Game. Compared to boy groups or girl groups performing in our country only on the day of the game, it was quite exotic.
The W League invested a lot for this All-Star Game. At least, Park Ji-hyeon, Lee So-hee, and Lee Hae-ran have played in gyms similar in size to Ariake Arena in other countries, but other players who lack international experience have not played in such a large arena. You can be overwhelmed by the atmosphere.
Lee Da-yeon said, “In the case of Dowon Gymnasium, it is a half court just a few steps from the entrance. However, the main court of Ariake Arena is not like that. Half court is a long walk from the diagonal entrance. I was surprised and amazed at how big it was (laughs)”, explaining the main gym.
Lee Hae-ran said, “Just because the facility is large, it doesn’t mean everything is good. After all, basketball is played on one court. However, being able to train in a variety of ways is a strength. It is also true that the court can be used widely,” he explained about what he felt at the auxiliary gym. ㅋㅋㅋ벳
Park Jin-young said, “As (Lee) Haeran said, you can exercise in a variety of ways on a wide court. However, I didn’t feel that the auxiliary gym was very good, maybe because our practice gym facilities were good,” she said.
Park Seong-jin said, “Maybe it was because I sweat a lot, so I had a hot side when exercising. But it’s the first time I’ve trained on a court with two sides, so it’s a different feeling. Like the other sisters, I was able to use the coat widely,” expressing a similar opinion to her sisters.
Japan has recently invested heavily in basketball facilities as well. Okinawa Arena, which will host the 2023 Basketball World Cup, boasts state-of-the-art facilities, as does Ariake Arena, where the Korea-Japan Women’s Basketball All-Star Game is held.
The Korea-Japan Women’s Basketball All-Star Game, which will be held this time, is an event that can be held continuously. If it is held in a good stadium, it can give more meaning. So this Korea-Japan Women’s Basketball All-Star Game will be a good study. It can also act as a turning point for players who lacked international experience.