Friday, June 15, 2001

Lee Replace Chien As NT Coach

Coming off a surprising East Asian Games performance, Taiwan NT suddenly finds itself without a head coach. CTBA announced assistant coach Lee Yun-kwang , who's only 33, will replace Chien Yi-fei as head coach in the upcoming ABC Championships, after it learned that almost the entire coaching staff expressed intentions to leave the national team for different reasons.

Chien Yi-fei, who has been battling cancer for a year, decided to leave NT for health problem. Chien's health got worse under the tremendous pressure of coaching the national team. He still wants to coach the team but his body obviously can't take the physical and mental drain. However, Chien will be on the national team in the ABC Championships as technical counselor.

Assistant coaches Tien Shi-ho and Jack Mai also left the team for personal reasons. Tien said he has to concentrate more both on his day job in Bank of Taiwan and as the head coach of Bank of Taiwan basketball team. Jack Mai will leave for USA after receiving an offer to work as a special assistant under Sacramento Kings GM Geoff Petrie.

That leaves the remaining coach on the national team, Lee Yun-kwang, as the only possible replacement. Although Lee has no any head coaching experience, he is strongly endorsed by his mentor Chien Yi-fei, who coached Lee in Yulon Dinos. Lee retired last year and has been working as an assistant coach for Taipei Physical Education College basketball team. During his playing days, Lee has been the starting PG on the national team for almost 10 years.

Change in the coaching staff deals another blow for Taiwan NT. Winning silver in the East Asian Games does not guarantee Taiwan NT anything in the ABC Championships. Every country is expected to send out their best players for the tournament, thus making the tournament a completely different scene from the EAG.