Powered by towering frontline, New Zealand defeated South Korea 78-67 in the championship game of the 23rd William Jones Cup on July 29. New Zealand's 7-foot center Tony Rampton(Iowa State '00) was voted tournament MVP.
Taiwan NT beat Philippines 83-73 in the bronze medal game. Japan knocked down South Africa 75-58 and finished fifth. South Africa's sixth place finish marked the best performance in their Jones Cup history.
New Zealand finally took home the title in their sixth Jones Cup appearance. "Tall Black" lost to Taiwan NT in last year's semifinal. New Zealand finished 5th, 8th, 7th and 4th during 1980-83 in the Jones Cup, they did not return to the tournament again until last year.
Head Coach Keith Mair was pleased with his team's performance. He said, however, New Zealand still has a long way to go since they are in the same group woth USA, Lithuania, Italy, France and China in the upcoming Sydney Olympics.
With veteran Cheng Chih-Lung's 21 point, 3 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals all-around performance, coupled with Lo Shin-Liang's 14 points, Taiwan NT edged Philippines to finish third, one spot below last year. Philippines was led by Christopher Clay's 23 points and Jeffrey Flowers' 18. They grabbed 20 more rebounds than the home team but 19 turnovers hurt them down the stretch.
Former University of Texas Longhorn Christopher Clay, who scored 109 points in six games, is the leading scorer in the tournament with a 18.2 average.
1- New Zealand; 2- South Korea; 3- Taiwan; 4- Philippines; 5- Japan; 6- South Africa; 7- Costa Rica; 8- Malaysia; 9- Taiwan 2nd; 10- Hong Kong
Taiwan Basketball Notes
NT COACH CHIEN YI-FEI RESIGNS
Citing health problems, NT head coach Chien Yi-Fei resigned after leading Taiwan NT to third-place in the 23rd William Jones Cup. Chien said he was pleased to see the younger players' development over the period and hope the new coaching staff will lead the national team to a new generation.
CTBA(Chinese Taipei Basketball Association) was surprised at Chien's announcement and will try to talk Chien out of the decision. CTBA hope Chien make his final decision after next year's ABC Championship and EastAsia Games.
TAIWAN PULLS OUT OF ABC U-20 CHAMPIONSHIP
Not happy with Taiwan NT 2nd's performance in the Jones Cup, CTBA announced on July 29 that Taiwan will pull out of the ABC U-20 Championship, which will take place in Doha, Katar next month. The announcement marks the first time a Taiwanese basketball team withdraw from an official FIBA-sanctioned tournament not by political reasons(with China).
Taiwan NT 2nd's poor play in the Jones Cup, where they lost to New Zealand by 56 points while scoring only 12 points in the first half, drew numerous criticism from the local media and fans. They finished only 9th in the tournament, compared to a surprising third-place finish in 1999. Observers think the coaching staff failed to prepare the team and carry out the discipline, and the players plainly don't know how to play team basketball.