Saturday, September 13, 2003

Taiwan needs two perfect games in Harbin

As Taiwan NT headed for Cebu, Philippines for the final warmup games Thursday, they were physically tired from the extensive training in the past six months that took them to Oregon, Sacramento and Philippines – and within two week, Harbin China.

But I would say they are mentally upbeat about the upcoming Asian Championship. Following the disappointing performance in the past two years (7th in the previous Asian Championship, 7th in 2002 Jones Cup and 7th in the Asian Games), thisi s a good chance for a sweet redemption.

The road will not be easy though. They are once again without top gun Chen Hsin-an, who’s in the middle of CTBA’s one-year suspension in NT play. And they need two perfect games in Harbin to advance to the second round, which means they have to beat both Iran and Syria in group play.

Traditionally, Taiwan NT did not match up well with teams from West Asia. They had trouble containing the more physical, stronger inside play of West Asian teams like Iran and Syria. They are always at a disadvantage in international competition because of smaller size.

Coincidentally, all three opponents in the group play – China, Iran and Syria – have good size inside.

Taiwan NT features a stable and reliable backcourt combination in PG Chen Chih-chung, Yen Shin-shu, SG Yang Yu-ming, Chiu Chi-yi and Hong Chi-chao. They should be able to do just fine, although the perimeter shooting is still shaky.

That leaves the big men with something to prove. Will Tien Lei develop an inside-outside game and becomes one of the most versatile SF in Asia? Are skinny centers Tsun Wen-din and Wu Dai-hao now stronger to face opposition? Will veteran Wu Chih-wei motivate himself to play hard every minute?