Talent can take you only so far, after all. Young and inexperienced Taiwan NT saw their high hope of making to the ABC final four diminish after losing to Japan, 60-69, in the first and most important game in the quarterfinals yesterday (July 23). Unless Taiwan routs Lebanon and Lebanon beat Japan, it will be almost impossible for Taiwan to finish in the top 4 this year.
Trailing in most of the first three quarters, Taiwan pulled ahead with a 13-2 spurt, including three three-pointers from Yen Shin-shu, Chiu Chi-yi and Chen Chih-chung, and took the lead 50-41 late in the third.
Just as when Taiwan NT finally seemed to find the tempo and control the game, the Japanese countered back with a shocking 25-10 fourth-quarter rally and led as many as 13 points. The game was already over in the final five minutes. Japan controlled the backboard with a 44-27 (ORB 18-7) rebounding advantage and forced Taiwan NT to 24 turnovers. SG Masaki Goto again led Japan with 19 points, 192cm F Yuki Orihara turned in 14 and 10.
Taiwan NT had nobody to blame after the critical loss and the sub-par performance. Last game's hero Tien Lei managed only 2 points and 6 rebounds and committed 4 turnovers in 25 minutes. Chiu Chi-yi led the team with 13 points, while Chen Chih-chung, Yen Shin-shu and Wu Chih-wei each scored 10 points.
In the must-win game today vs. Lebanon, Taiwan NT is waiting for the decision on whether the ABC will impose any suspension on Lebanon's 6-11 center Joe Vogel, who engaged in a punch-throwing fight in the game vs. China yesterday. If Vogel is not allowed to play, Taiwan will have a better chance winning.