World Champion defencejobs Opals Captain Lauren Jackson scored a season high 36 points for Korean club side Samsung Bichumi yesterday in their 85-58 victory over Kumho RedWings in the Women’s Korean Basketball League (WKBL), The Korea Times reports.
Playing in Kuri, on the northern outskirts of Seoul, Jackson surpassed her previous season high of 33 points, which she posted only a week earlier. She also pulled in 14 rebounds in 30 minutes on court.
The 27-point win improves Samsung’s record to 6-and-4, giving them third position on the ladder behind Woori Hansae (7-3) and the Shinhan S-birds (9-1).
Samsung trailed 22-16 in the first quarter before Jackson scored 11 points in the second to push her team to a 40-30 halftime lead.
In 10 games this season, LJ has bagged 275 points at 27.5 per game, pulled in 141 rebounds at 14.1 per game and played an average 36.6 minutes per game.
She also averages 2.0 steals, 1.7 assists and 1.1 blocks per game.
Jackson, the 2003 WNBA MVP, will have her third showdown with WNBA rival Tamika Catchings on Saturday in Yongin, where Samsung hosts Woori Hansae.
In the first two matches between the two teams this season, Catchings has outscored Jackson 23-22 and 25-20 respectively.
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The South Korean city of Yongin used to be known only for the giant Samsung-owned theme park Everland. That was before WNBA star Lauren Jackson came to town.
On an early February afternoon, with temperatures struggling to reach - 5 C (23 F), there were few queues for the rollercoasters at Everland, 32 kilometers (20 miles) south of the capital Seoul. The main attraction instead was another asset owned by the Korean conglomerate — women's basketball team the Samsung Life Insurance Yongin Bimuchi and its Australian star Jackson.
The Seattle Storm forward is still adapting to life in South Korea, where she will spend this and the next two winter seasons.
"It's absolutely freezing, it's my first winter for seven years." Jackson told The Associated Press after Samsung's thrilling 67-66 loss to Woori Bank on Friday in which fellow WNBA star Tamika Catchings made the winning basket in the final seconds.
Samsung (5-4) sits in third place in the six-team league.
"We may win the title but we weren't at our best today" said the 2003 WNBA MVP, who captained Australia to the 2006 world title.
When the 25 year-old says "we" she really means it, saying she enjoys getting along with her Korean teammates.
"I was looking forward to the communication problem," she laughs. "There's no gossip, we have dinner and have a good time.
"There was respect from the beginning, but when we started playing well, we started to understand each other," she added. "From a basketball perspective, my teammates are some of the best people I have ever met."
By Jackson's own admission, it took her a little time to adapt to the Korean game. She turned down more lucrative offers from Russia to move here in December, choosing to winter in Korea's short basketball season to keep her fresh for the WNBA.
Soccer and baseball may attract more fans, but basketball is growing in popularity in South Korea. Despite the 2 p.m. tipoff time, there was a lively atmosphere in Yongin City Arena.
"Many foreigners come here with the weight of the world on her shoulders," she said. "They are paid big money and always feel they have to be great. It's not possible, even LeBron James has off days."
Jackson is not yet as famous as the Cleveland Cavaliers star, but in a country where black hair is universal and the average height of young women is 1.6 meters (5-foot-3), she turns heads.
"I am blond and 6-foot-5 (1.96 meters), so what do you expect?" she said. "People do stare. However, I have always been tall and am pretty much oblivious to it. Even if people did say something, I wouldn't understand anyway. Anyway, everybody has been fantastic."