Tuesday, May 29, 2001

Taiwan NT Goes Home with Silver

After a sluggish start, Taiwan NT pounded Japan in the final three quarters as the youngest ever Taiwanese National Team beat Japan 87-68 in the third-place game in the 3rd East Asia Game on May 27. Australia beat China 105-93 in the title game and finished undefeated in the tournament.

Technically speaking, the Aussies won the championship. However, since they participated this event as an OBSERVER, Australia team would not receive any medal. Therefore China is the OFFICIAL champion in men's basketball. Taiwan took home the silver and host Japan settled with bronze.

Taiwan NT trailed 18-21 after the first quarter, but SG Yang Yu-min, who emerged as a big-time scorer out of nowhere, again tallied 17 points in the second quarter as Taiwan pulled away for a 10-point lead (48-38) in halftime. Taiwan's youngsters dominated the second half with their energy and explosiveness, again worn out their opponents and outscored the Japanese 39-30 to finish with a 19-point win.

Yang Yu-min led with 22 points on 8-11 shooting. 201cm F-C Tien Lei pulled down an astonishing 22 rebounds, including 8 on the offensive end, and scored 12 points. Chen Hsin-an made 3 of 5 three-pointers and finished with 18 points, 4 rebounds and 3 assists. Chou Hong-yu had 13. Japan was led by Takuya Kita's 23 and Atsushi Ono's 14. Satoru Furuta had 10 boards.

No one expected Taiwan NT to finish in the top 4 prior to the tournament, let alone winning silver medal. But these youngsters, collectively averaging a shade under 22 years-old, surprise almost everyone, from local fans and coaching staff to their opponents. China and Japan's coach both used the word "shock" to describe how they feel about the Taiwanese team. Taiwan's Big Three - Tien Lei, Chen Hsin-an and Yang Yu-min - are now no longer unknowns around the Asia.

In the meaningless title game - China already clinched the gold medal even if they lost the game - Australia used its balanced attack to finish the Chinese. The Aussies outscored China in every quarter with Brett Maher scored a team-high 20 points. Benjamin Melmeth had a solid game with 19 points, 6 rebounds and 5 assists. Paul Rogers and Matt Nielson scored 13 respectively.

Obviously, China's head coach Wang Fei once again used the game for preparation for the upcoming Asian Games. 7-6 center Yao Ming had 11 points, 8 rebounds and 5 blocks in 28 minutes while Wang Zhi-zhi scored 13 in 24 minutes after sitting out the previous game nursing ankle injury. Lee Nan led the team with 25 points. PF Liu Yu-dong had 18.

■Final Results for the 3rd East Asia Games
1st - Australia
Gold - China
Silver - Taiwan
Bronze - Japan
5th - Korea
6th - Kazakstan
7th - Mongolia