South Korea NT demonstrated its deadly outside shooting during pre-game team practice and looked like the team to beat in the 1999 R. Williams Jones Cup Tournament, which starts action today(Aug.2)
6-3 lefty guard Hur Jae, who had been expelled from the NT because of numerous off-court problems, is back on the team and became the media darling in the press conference yesterday(July 31).
Taiwan basketball fans are familiar with 34-year-old Hur Jae mainly because he broke their heart a ton of times by leading South Korea pass Taiwan NT in several Asian tournaments.
The DUAL between Hur Jae and local star Cheng Chih-Lung is highly anticipated by local fans and media. Both play the same position in shooting guard/small forward, possess unstoppable scoring ability and showmanship. And both were named to Jones Cup All-Star Team a record six times.
Defending champion Philippines sends Iloilo Megavoltz of MBA to this year's Jones Cup. However Iloilo did not draw too much attention prior to the tournament because Taiwan is not familiar with the newly MBA, which is just in its second year. CENTENNIAL TEAM, consisted of PBA superstars, dominated Jones Cup last year and won it all eventually. Every Philippines game was sold out thanks to many Filipinos working in Taiwan. Filipino fans screamed thru the whole game and held cardboards to support their hometown heros. Whether we'll see this again is remained to be seen.
Among the other participating teams, New Zealand took a big hit by the absence of 6-11 center Sean Marks, who's in Toronto Raptors' summer league team right now. New Zealand is also the team everybody doesn't know about because it did not participate too many tournaments in Asia.
Costa Rica visited Taiwan for the second year in a row and look for improving their fifth place finish last year, with only five players on last year's roster. South Africa's Soweto Panthers, Bahrain NT and Taiwan National Second are expected to be out of the semifinal also.
At this moment, the favorites to squeeze into the final four are South Korea, New Zealand, Philippines and the home team Taiwan NT.