Q&A: Kimchi Express, Showtime reflect on first TBT wins


By: Josh Brown | @josh_brown31

It was an unforgettable summer for the two TBT mainstays

From four-peats, to scoring feats, to improbable beats, TBT 2018 had no shortage of historic moments. Nobody knows this better than Kimchi Express and Showtime. In a matter of 36 minutes (OK, 32 minutes and however long the Elam Ending took), these two squads went from loveable losers to TBT contenders after picking up their first wins in tournament history. Talk about a productive summer.

For two years, Kimchi Express entered the West Regional with a pretty good idea that they would lose their first game. How could they not? The team consisted of a group of high school friends from Southern California whose basketball experience mostly peaked in high school. That changed in TBT 2018. GM Daniel Chun spent countless hours courting some of the best talent on the West Coast, eventually landing alumni from top-tier schools including Nevada and USC. With Kimchi's signature rowdy crowd sitting behind the bench, Chun saw his vision to come life when they defeated DuBois Dream in a play-in game. 

Showtime's TBT journey is probably better suited for Hollywood than middle-of-no-where Virginia. In 2001, the town of Council (pop. 500) won a Virginia state championship in basketball. Over a decade later, two brothers (Shane and Stacy Presley) and their friends formed Showtime, a 2014 TBT entrant that has returned every year since. Although they came painfully close to winning a couple of games over the years - most notably in 2017 when Ram Nation beat them on a last-second mid-range shot - 2018 was the year that they finally pulled through. On the back of Marcus Posley (26 points), who flew overnight from Las Vegas Summer League to Richmond for the game, Showtime defeated favorited Wake The Nation, 68-55. 

We caught up with Daniel, Shane and Stacy to reminisce about their historic summers.

*This interview was edited for clarity*

Q: What did it mean to you to finally get win number one? 

Daniel: It felt like a huge weight off our shoulders, especially for the ones who've been grinding since the inception of Kimchi Express. I can't begin to tell you how many times when recruiting votes we would get responses like, "I'll only vote if you guys win," "are you guys actually going to win?" etc... With that being said, this is just the beginning and we've got a lot of room to grow. TBT 2018 was just the foundation for us to be a real contender in the future.

Shane: I've spent pretty much my entire life having some sort of basketball going on. From school, to the hundreds of men's leagues and tournaments we've played in, and now to coaching high school basketball the past couple of years. This win topped any of those, mainly because of the work we have had to put in and just the [magnitude] of TBT. [It's] amazing that just a couple of guys from far southwest Virginia have been able to even get the opportunity.

Stacy: It meant a lot - all the years of hard work put in from the guys getting votes, fundraising, practicing and scheduling everything. After coming so close in 2017, losing on that last second shot to Ram Nation, that was tough. This win was a great moment!


Q: What was the reaction among friends/family when you got the win?

Daniel: You could probably tell how our community reacted to the win judging by how we celebrated after beating Dubois Dream. We're a very passionate group and the passion carries over into celebrating as well. However, we couldn't dwell too much on the win because we had to prepare for Team Colorado literally less than 12 hours after our W.

Shane: The reaction we got from everyone was pretty amazing. A lot of people know of [TBT] but aren't quite sure how it works, so some people assumed that we had won some cash. I know we had several people questioning why we still stay invested in it.

Stacy: They were all so happy for us. Anybody that has supported the team knows how much it means to us. I had around 300 texts, emails, and Facebook messages with congratulations.


Q: How has your life changed since winning a game in TBT?

Daniel: Well, now I don't cry myself to sleep. HAHA [just kidding]. Life will never change unless we win that $2 million. But, it was really great to see that the TBT community and random fans have been pulling for us since our debut in 2016. The love that we received after our first win was amazing and we're just so thankful for all the fans.

Shane: I don't think my life has changed a ton, just feel like I don't have this enormous weight on my shoulders anymore. I think my life has changed throughout the process. I've met people from all over the country who I will remember for the rest of my life. We always keep track of all the guys that have played for us and continue to play overseas. 

Stacy: It took a huge monkey off my back. It was stressful knowing how close we had been before, so getting that win has gotten that stress out of here!


Q: Was there ever a point where you doubted whether you'd ever win a game?

Daniel: Never. We knew we would have to make a wholesale change in the way our team was structured to put us in a position to win TBT. We had a great time playing as friends and those are memories that will last forever with us, but as competitors, we needed to make that change and I knew once we did, the sky would be the limit. I'm confident that we can [gain entry] into every TBT through fan support. I'm also confident that the drive and tenacity we have will lead us to find quality players who are committed to the team and want to win. So, with participating in TBT year-in-and-year-out coupled with the motivation to find quality players, I always knew we were going to win a game. Now, it's time to take the next step and win this thing. 

Shane: I think some doubt crept in when the Terrico White/Josh Selby deal fell through. Then we had Mardracus Wade have something come up last second. Thankfully, Brandon Holcomb came through near the end of the [registration period]. We had flip-flopped on adding one more player with Marcus Posley's situation in the Summer league. Thankfully for us, the Nuggets lost and Marcus was able to make a couple flights back to Richmond.

Stacy: The first quarter was tight [against Wake The Nation], but after we got the lead in the second quarter, I felt like we were in control the rest of the way.


Q: Do you think getting that win will make it easier to recruit moving forward?

Daniel: No doubt. The win validates our team as a true threat to TBT and future recruits realize that we're serious about winning. Also, the win helps the Kimchi Express brand to expand our community reach in recruiting support for future [tournaments]. It isn't easy recruiting support, so any help throughout the qualification process is awesome.

Shane: I believe having that first win gives us something to build off of with other players. You always have guys who want to know how you have done and what your roster looks like. Hopefully, we can continue to build off of last year. I think we may have had the toughest second round draw of anyone [with Louisiana United]. 

Stacy: Yes, I definitely think it will help us moving forward. We already have some guys on the radar for next year.


Q: Based on the hours spent recruiting fans to support the team, do you think more people know you as [Daniel, Shane and Stacy] or the guy from TBT?

Daniel: Daniel Chun. I want my name to be synonymous with kimchi. The next time you go to a restaurant and order kimchi, I want you to think of Daniel Chun while you're ordering.

Shane: I think most people still know me as Shane Presley. Most people we know in our area knew us as Shane, Stacy, Neil (Rasnake) and Travis [Viers] from Showtime before we had ever participated in TBT. I think we've just expanded our family and added a few guys who know us as the guys from TBT. 

Stacy: I think most of the fans already knew me. With that being said, I have ran into a few guys that have said 'hey TBT GM,  get me a jersey or Showtime shirt' or whatever.


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