Taiwan NT and SINA did not disappoint the home crowd in the first two days action of the YES 4-Nations Invitational Tournament, both sinking visitors Kuwait and Philippines and winning two straight to sit atop the standing. Both home teams are already expected to finish first and second in the tournament.
After cruising by Kuwait, Taiwan NT faced a challenging Philippines team. Led by SF Shan Wei-fan's three consecutive jumpers, Taiwan NT regained their momentum in the second half and finally pulled away for the hard-fought win.
The game brought back memories of the 1999 Jones Cup bench-clearing brawl between Taiwan NT and Philippines' Iloilo Megavoltz (MBA), when Philippines' guard Rudy Espino sacked Ho Sho-jen to the floor and was ejected in the last minute. Ervin Sotto also committed a flagrant foul earlier in the second half when he intentionally pushed Tseng Wen-din, who was finishing a fast-break dunk, from the back. Espino drew a loud boos from the crowd after the injection.
Focusing on the preparation for the upcoming ABC Championship, Taiwan NT head coach Lee Yun-kwang spread playing times among all players, with no one playing more than 20 minutes in two games, except Tseng Wen-din and Tien Lei in the first game. 17 year-old center Tseng shows great improvement since returning from East Asia Games, coming up with his best game so far in Game 1 (21p+13rb+2blk). Tseng, who will only be a high school senior next year, probabably is already the best high-post center in Taiwan. Keep your eyes on this young man. If he keeps adding bulk and developing inside moves, he will have a chance to be the starting center on the national team for the next 10 years.
SG Lo Shin-liang have been SINA's most reliable scorer, averaging 22.5 points in two wins. It will take more than Lo alone if SINA wants to beat the national team and wins the tournament.
Led by talented 203cm center Yancy De Ocampo, Philippines showed great competitiveness throughout two games, but could not make the last push in the closing minutes and ended up losing both games.
Obviously, Kuwait was the weakest among four teams, although 18 year-old Abdoula Al-Saraf, who's the leading scorer in last year's ABC Junior Championship, was sometimes brilliant. Without height advantage and consistent perimeter shooting, Kuwait's 18.5PPG losing margin in the first two games is no surprise. Kuwait, which like Taiwan is going thru a rebuilding period on NT level, is far from competitive compared with the rest of the Asian countries. A top 6 finish in the upcoming ABC Championship seems out of reach.
SINA 70-63 Philippines (34-39)
SINA - Lo Shin-liang 18p+3a ; Huang Chun-hsiung 11p+7rb ; Hsiung Jen-jen 9p+6rb+3s ; Wu Yong-jen 7p ; Lai Kuo-hong 6p+7rb
PHI - R. De Ocampo 18p ; Y. De Ocampo 11p+10rb
Taiwan 97-69 Kuwait (49-30)
TAI - Tseng Wen-din 21p+13rb+2blk ; Yang Yu-min 12p ; Tien Lei 10p+3a+3s ; Shan Wei-fan 9p ; Lee Chi-yi 7p ; Wu Dai-hao 7p+6rb+2blk
KUW - A. Al-Saraf 15p+5rb ; O. Al-Farhan 14p+8rb ; A. Al-Muttiry 9p+5rb+6s
SINA 76-67 Kuwait (44-35)
SINA - Lo Shin-liang 27p (3-6 3PT)+5s ; Lai Kuo-hong 12p+7rb ; Huang Chun-hsiung 8p+11rb+2blk ; Hu Yu-wei 8p
KUW - A. Al-Saraf 19p+3s ; A. Helal 14p+8rb ; O. Al-Farhan 12p
Taiwan 84-73 Philippines (40-40)
TAI - Shan Wei-fan 11p+6rb ; Yang Yu-min 11p ; Chiu Chi-yi 10p ; Tseng Wen-din 9p+7rb+3s ; Lee Chi-yi 9p+5rb ; Chou Hong-yu 9p ; Tien Lei 6p(3-11 FG)+2s
PHI - Y. De Ocampo 23p+7rb+4s+3blk ; E. Sotto 14p ; A. Vergarda 12p ; R. De Ocampo 10p+3a