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ICYDK: 'Single's Inferno 3' contestant Lee Gwan Hee used to play for a Philippine basketball team

By Yoniel Acebuche Published Jan 10, 2024 10:07 pm

Some may love him, some may hate him. But either way, people are still talking about Single's Inferno 3's Lee Gwan Hee.

Gwan Hee, who is part of the South Korean dating show airing on Netflix, has been the talk of the town for being this season's biggest "player" having liked three girls—Choi Hye-seon, Yun Ha-jeong, and Cho Min-ji.

During one of his trips to "Paradise" in the show, it was revealed that Gwan Hee is a professional basketball player for a South Korean team, particularly Changwon LG Sakers as its shooting guard.

But did you know this six-foot-two basketball player-turned-reality star extended his hardcourt prowess beyond South Korea and played for a basketball team in the Philippines?

Yes, you read it right, Gwan Hee played in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) and he said it has helped him become a "better player."

During the 2016 PBA Governor's Cup, Gwan Hee joined the Phoenix Fuel Masters when the association allowed each team to pick Asian imports.

The Korean basketball star left an indelible mark on the Philippine league, scoring an average of 7.6 during the eliminations and 24 points on 9-of-10 shooting during the league's do-or-die quarterfinal game against TNT KaTropa. 

Lee Gwan Hee showed his skills on the hard court during the 2016 PBA Governor's Cup against TNT KaTropa

Although Fuel Masters eventually lost, Gwan Hee described his experience "as the best game he ever had in the Filipino pro league." He said playing for the Fuel Masters gave him "confidence" to play abroad, underscoring the transformative impact of his PBA stint on his career.

"Because of the time I spent in the Philippines, I have confidence playing abroad so that's why I can do good in Japan, Macau, and the Philippines," he said in an interview with the Tiebreaker Times in 2018.

'The time I spent in the Philippines helped me become a better player'

The 35-year-old athlete displayed his skills in the domestic pro league and racked up 17 points at Asia's League The Terrific 12, leading his team, Seoul Samsung Thunders, to the semifinals.

During a press conference, Gwan Hee joked to his coach, "Maybe Korea isn't the place where I need to play."

"Definitely, the time I spent in the Philippines helped me become a better player," he added.

'Not the typical Korean player'

Meanwhile, Filipino basketball coach Ariel Vanguardia, who last served as the interim head coach for the Blackwater Bossing of the PBA and was the Fuel Masters' head coach back in 2016, said that he is happy to see that Gwan Hee has "blossomed into who he is" in 2018.

In case you didn't know, Vanguardia was the one who discovered Gwan Hee when he was in the Philippines training with coach Kirk Coller.

Lee Gwan Hee starred in Netflix's Single's Inferno Season 3

"I know he's got plenty of upside. Everyone was surprised when I signed him. But I am not. He's not the typical Korean player. His skill set is different," the seasoned bench tactician said. "I love coaching him."

Gwan Hee is currently one of the contestants in Season 3 of Netflix's dating series, Single's Inferno, which follows nine "young flirty Korean singles" as they "search for love on a deserted island that they can only escape as couples for romantic date nights in paradise."

After the show concluded on Jan. 9, Gwan Hee reflected on his experience on the reality show, saying, "I remember watching the show a long time ago, and it really made me think deeply. While my honest and candid personality might not have resonated with everyone, I have no regrets about being true to myself."