Taiwan NT got back their top shooting form in time to shock host Japan, 77-68, in their must-win game and grabbed the final spot in the Asian Basketball Championship's final four.
Taiwan will face powerful China, which won 10 of the previous 19 Asian Basketball Championships, in semifinal. Defending champion South Korea will face Saudi Arabia, which finished fourth in 1997, in the other semi.
Lo Shin-Liang and Cheng Chih-Lung, Taiwan's most prolific scorers, put the nightmarish performance in the South Korea game behind them and tallied 25p and 24p each and led Taiwan to its first final four birth since 1995.
Taiwan NT, which shot 47% from the field in the game, used its sweet perimeter shooting to kickstart the game and led 31-21 with 5:01 remaining in the first half. But Japan's PG Kenichi Sako made a three-pointer to start a 12-0 spurt and led 37-36 at the half.
With Michael Takahashi(19rb) and Dan Weiss(14rb) dominating the board, Japan was able to maintain its lead most of the second half. They still led 62-57 with 5 1/2 minutes to go, when Taiwan made its last push.
Cheng Chih-Lung's six straight points ignited Taiwan's 10-0 run, capped by Lo Shin-Liang's three-pointer. But after Taiwan jumped back to take the lead 69-62 with two minutes remaining, they made only 4 out of 10 free throws. Meanwhile, Takehiko Orimo made two quick three-point shot to make it 68-73 with under a minute to go. However, Japan could not score any point. Taiwan finally walked away and seal the surprising victory after Cheng and Lo swished four consecutive foul shots.
Taiwan trailed 33-50 in rebounding but commited only seven tourovers. Guard Yen Shin-Shu contributed 13 points. Japan's leading scorers Takehiko Orimo and Makoto Hasegawa shot a combined 9-31. As a team, they shot a poorly 35% from the field.
Japan's headcoach Mototaka Kohama immediately resigned from the post after the defeat, citing he could not take the team to a higher level. Takehiko's 16 points led the team.
SECOND ROUND FINAL RESULTS
China 107-67 Lebanon(52-39)
Saudi Arabia 93-80 Kuwait(47-40)
2.Saudi Arabia 2-1
Taiwan 77-68 Japan(36-37)
South Korea 70-62 Syria(30-38)
1.South Kores 3-0
UAE 88-75 Malaysia(47-42)
Bahrain 93-70 Hong Kong(39-50)
3.Hong Kong 1-2
Uzbekistan 83-71 Thailand(44-34)
13:00 Hong Kong-Thailand(13th/14th place)
15:00 Bahrain-Philippines(11th/12th place)
17:00 UAE-Uzbekistan(9th/10th place)
10:00 Lebanon-Syria(7th/8th place)
12:00 Japan-Kuwait(5th/6th place)
14:00 South Korea-Saudi Arabia(Semi I)
16:00 China-Taiwan(Semi II)
11:00 Consolation Game(Semi I&II losers)
13:00 Championship Game(Semi I&II winners)