Mobis prepares for new season as pro basketball’s ‘oldest player’
‘One-club man’ with five championship rings since debut ‘most ties’ if he adds one more before retirement
‘Favorite’ confidence while working on perimeter shooting “I want to be a stimulus to the juniors until the end”
Ham Ji-hoon (Mobis), who will be the oldest player (39) to take the court in professional basketball when the 2023-2024 season begins in October, dreams of hanging up his jersey after lifting one more championship trophy. He has won five titles since his professional debut, and if he wins one more, he will set the record for the most in the category.
“I want to win one more title before I retire like Yang Hee-jong.”
Ham Ji-hoon, 39, of the professional basketball team Mobis, wants to finish his career like Yang Hee-jong, who is the same age as him. Yang Hee-jong, who made her professional debut in the 2007-2008 season, played for only one team, KGC Ginseng Corporation, and retired at the end of the 2022-2023 season, which ended in May, lifting the championship trophy in her final season.
Ham Ji-hoon is another “one-club man” who has played exclusively for Mobis since his professional debut. “I’m at an age where I won’t regret taking off my jersey anymore, but I’d rather win one more championship and leave,” he said during a recent meeting at the Mobis training gym in Yongin, Gyeonggi Province. “It’s every player’s dream to win a championship and retire to applause.”
Ham has won the title five times since his debut (2009-2010, 2012-2013, 2013-2014, 2014-2015, and 2018-2019 seasons). He reached the championship match five times and never lost the title. If Ham adds one more championship ring before he retires, he will tie Yang Dong-geun for the most in this category in Korean professional basketball with his teammate. Yang, who also played exclusively for Mobis and retired after the 2019-2020 season, won six championships as a player, including the 2006-2007 season before Ham Ji-hoon joined the team.
There are many expectations that KCC and SK will form a powerhouse in the 2023-2024 professional basketball season, which kicks off on October 21. However, Ham Ji-hoon is confident, saying, “We’re definitely a contender for the championship,” adding, “The team has done a good job of developing young players and strengthening the roster, so now I just need to play well.” Mobis, who has been rebuilding the team since Yang Dong-geun’s retirement in 2020, has been praised for its success in changing the generation centered on signees Lee Woo-seok and Shin Min-seok, who are known as the “Goo Goos” (people born in 1999).
Last season, Ham played in 47 of the 54 regular season games, averaging 20 minutes and 41 seconds per game. The forward averaged 7.2 points per game and added 3.7 rebounds and three assists. Considering his age, he still has a lot of fitness and athleticism left in him. Heading into the new season, Ham Ji-hoon has been working on improving his perimeter game. There are plenty of players to protect the perimeter, including Kim Jun-il (201 centimeters), Jang Jae-seok (204 centimeters), and Kim Hyun-min (200 centimeters), who played for LG until last season and became a free agent and donned a Mobis jersey. “I’m doing a lot of shooting practice and image training in order to average at least one three-pointer per game,” Ham said. Hamm averaged 0.3 three-pointers per game from his debut until last season.
In the new season, Ham will be the oldest player in the Korean professional basketball league. Last season’s oldest players, Kim Dong-wook (42) and Yang Hee-jong, Kim Young-hwan and Yoon Ho-young, who are the same age as Ham Ji-hoon, all hung up their jerseys. “I don’t think I’m old,” said Ham Ji-hoon, “I’ve had older brothers who played until they were over 40, so being the oldest player doesn’t feel real to me.” “I’m not good at giving advice to my juniors because I’m not around words, and it doesn’t suit my aptitude,” he said. “I want to show my body and compete with my skills until the day I retire, 한국야동 and be a stimulus to my juniors.”