“Without Kang Sangjae, there would be no MVP. Thank you for the best captain”.

“I wouldn’t be MVP without Kang. He’s the best captain and I’m so grateful.”

Wonju DB’s Ethan Albano was selected as the MVP of the domestic player at the 2023-24 professional basketball regular league award ceremony held at the Grand Intercontinental Seoul Parnas Grand Ballroom on the 1st.

He was named the best five and the MVP as a Korean player, winning two gold medals. It was possible because he had the best season not only individually but also as a team.

Albano, who played 54 games, averaged 15.9 points, 3.0 rebounds, 6.6 assists, and 1.5 steals in 31 minutes and 47 seconds. He played in all games and was also short of the MVP title.

“I’m so happy and honored to receive such an award that I can’t get easily,” Albano said. “I thought I would be able to win Kang Sang-jae as well. Lee Jung-hyun, who won five gold medals, was also a strong rival. I had to be nervous until the end and was surprised when my name was called.”

Notably, he had a showdown with Kang, and was dominant by a three-vote margin (50-47). This marks the first time in KBL history that an Asian quarter player has become an MVP of a domestic player.

“I really appreciate (Kang Sang-jae) for congratulating me,” Albano said. Kang was well qualified to be MVP. Without him, I would not have been MVP either. He is the best captain, and I am so grateful for him.”

On the same day, there was a necklace with a picture of a person on Albano’s neck. The main character of the picture was Albano’s father who left first to the sky as a child.

“I don’t really like metal accessories (laughs). It was a meaningful day, and I wore the necklace as if I was with my father, who died when I was 14 years old,” Albano said.

In fact, he was able to win three gold medals including MVP, best five, and assist award. However, he narrowly lost out in the last-minute competition with Lee and ultimately failed to become the winner in second place.

“As far as I know, the ranking changed in the last game. I’m really happy that an amazing player named Lee Jung-hyun set the record and I want to congratulate him. It motivates me, too. I want to give more assists next season,” he said.

Of course, the selection of an Asian quarter player as an MVP could be hard to sympathize with. However, Albanese was definitely qualified as an MVP based on KBL standards, and his performance was not lacking.

“I’m grateful that I was named MVP as an Asian quarter player when I was not classified as a foreign player. Thank you to everyone who voted. I respect KBL,” he said in an exemplary response.

Albano’s 2023-24 season is not over yet. He is set for a semifinal playoff and has one more run to win the DB’s unified title. However, at the end of this season, it will be decided whether to stay in the DB or leave.

Albano said, “My whole family including myself is very satisfied with my life in Korea. I think the KBL league is highly competitive. The DB team is also very good. I want to continue to be with you in the future.”

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