Friday, November 14, 2003

2003-04 SBL Preview

Yulon Dinos

Head coach: Chien Yi-fei

Projected Starters:
C Tsun Wen-din (203, 1984)
PF Chou Hong-yu (195, 1976)
SF Chen Hsin-an (196, 1980)
SG Chiu Chi-yi (180, 1975)
PG Chen Chih-chung (182, 1977)

Key Subs: PG Lee Chih-ming (173, 1984), C Wu Chih-wei (202, 1976), SG Chou Shih-yuan (190, 1983), PG/SG Hong Chih-chao (187, 1982)

Key Additions: SG Liu Shen-yao (188, 1983, Rookie), SG Lin Ming-shien (184, 1975, Military), PG Huang Bao-tse (180, 1976, Retired from Army)

Key Losses: None

Chen Hsin-an, arguably Taiwan’s best player, can take over the game single-handedly anytime. Yulon features the most sounded half-court offense scheme, discipline, chemistry and the most reliable switching man-to-man defense. Every position goes two deep. Head coach Chien Yi-fei’s experience cannot be overlooked.

Not many. Sometimes their offense is too predictable. Coach Chien prefers the walk-it-up, cut-down-turnover half-court offense. He is reluctant in accepting the open-court style, which most players like to play. With every team boosting up their frontline, Yulon has to take care of the rebounding.

Still the heavy-favorite to win the title, although they didn’t make any dramatic roster change. Keep in mind, Yulon’s starting lineup features five current/former NT players, whose skill level and experience in big games are unparalleled.

Dacin Constructions

Head coach: Liu Jia-fa

Projected Starters:
C Yeh Shu-wei (195, 1983)
PF Lee Feng-yong (197, 1980)
SF Tien Lei (202, 1983)
SG Chang Chih-feng (182, 1981)
PG Huang Chih-chun (180, 1982)

Key Subs: F/G Hsu Chih-chao (190, 1974), Lin Kuan-lun (186, 1984), Chen Tse-wei (198, 1985), Hsu Shi-ching (192, 1984)

Key Additions: None

Key Losses: Wu Dai-hao (202, 1985, Jutai Tech)

This is a team that is strong in the perimeter, with at least seven players that can launch three-pointers. And they really excel in the transition, fast-paced game, if they can control the boards. With Dacin, no lead is big enough because if they go crazy behind the three-point line, you’re in deep trouble.

Tien Lei is one of the best players in Taiwan, as he led Taiwan NT in scoring in Asian Championship easily. He has the athletic ability and sweet shooting stroke that you just can’t find among bigmen who are taller than 6-7. In short, he can dominate the game all by himself.

Liu Jia-fa is one of the most hard-working coaches in Taiwan whose experience will grow. Chang Chih-feng is a underrated shooter who will be benefited from his experience in the World University Games.

Starters’ average height is not bad. And if he wants, Tien Lei will be the most feared rebounders in the game. But Dacin is still a DONUT team which needs help in the middle, because Tien Lei is gradually playing his game further away from the basket. As a team, they fall in love too much with the three-pointers sometimes.

Losing NT C/PF Wu Dai-hao means Dacin will have to work extra harder if they want to make it to the top four in SBL. If Tien Lei learns how to dominate with his inside-outside skill and the backcourt is hot from the outside, Dacin can’t be overlooked. Lee Feng-yong also has to get himself more in the paint to give Dacin a powerful inside presence.

If none of the above happens, it will be hard for Dacin to play with the big boys.

Bank of Taiwan

Head coach: Wei Chen-ming

Projected Starters:
C Ju Yong-hong (194, 1976)
PF Lo Da-wei (193, 1976)
SF Lin Chun-feng (187, 1979)
SG Chen Shen-ya (187, 1983)
PG Hsu Hao-cheng (176, 1982)

Key Subs: PG Chien Ming-fu (162, 1979), PG Wu Yong-jen (176, 1982), SG/SF Yang Chin-min (187, 1984), PF Chuan Xiao-wen (188, 1984)

Key Additions: Chien Ming-fu, Lo Da-wei and Lin Chun-feng (All came back from Military Team)

Key Losses: Ho Sho-jen (Taiwan Beer)

Look at their lineup, BOT is what we call a “no-position” team except for their point guard. Virtually every player can play inside and out and interchangable, especially Lin Chun-feng, Lo Da-wei and Chen Shen-ya.

BOT is at its best when they push the ball downcourt, play the fast-paced, open-court type of game. They don’t have to many set plays in the half-court game. They love to mix it up inside and bang with people although they don’t have height advantage.

And BOT is blessed with the deepest point guard combination in the league (although they are all small), featuring Hsu Hao-cheng, Wu Yong-jen and Chien Ming-fu. All three are capable of starting.

This is a very inconsistent team, and losing top scorer Ho Sho-jen to Taiwan Beer definitely hurts them. Head coach Wei Chen-ming is in his first year after being promoted from the assistant coach position. His experience is limited.

Most people rank them as the last-placed team in the league, which is very possible. BOT had been an underachieving team after former head coach Tien Shi-ho left and Hu Tsai-lin took over (Hu is now SINA’s head coach). And now they lost Ho Sho-jen. BOT has to work very hard to escape from the last-place finish.

BCC Mars

Head coach: Chung Chih-mung

Projected Starters:
C Lai Kuo-hong (196, 1974)
PF Lee Chi-yi (198, 1978)
SF Yang Che-yi (193, 1978)
SG Lin Jia-huang (185, 1975)
PG Yen Shin-shu (183, 1976)

Key Subs: SF Lin Jen-da (195, 1976), PG Chen Huei (185, 1978), C Cheng An-jay (200, 1979), C/PF Lin Shin-hua (198, 1975)

Key Additions: SG Hu Yu-wei (189, 1983)

Key Losses: None

Argubly Taiwan’s No. 1 PG, Yen Shin-shu is Mars’ key to success. In the half-court set, he has the uncanny ability to find the open man in a split of second. And he is even better at handling fastbreaks. Yen’s scoring is also highly underrated.

For years Mars are known for their bruising frontline and the ability to create mismatches. Plus, their core players haven’t changed for almost four years. That means they will have better chemistry and understanding on the court. If they can keep focus and intensity for the whole game, Mars are tough to beat.

Coach Chung knows his players well, and Mars players feed off of him. Basically they will die for their head coach. You can’t say the same thing about the other teams.

Mars is very good at playing 35 minutes of good basketball but ends up losing the game because of five bad minutes. They need to keep the same intensity thru out the whole game.

Mars will be in deep trouble if its outside shot doesn’t fall, which happened often. Lin Jia-huang and Yang Che-yi have to be consistent on the perimeter to open up the paint for big guys.

This is a team no one knows about. If they bring the A game, they can practically beat anybody. If it’s not the case, they’ll be probably upset by anyone. Mars definitely belongs in the top four. After that, in the playoffs, you just don’t know.

SINA Lions

Head coach: Hu Tsai-lin

Projected Starters:
C Liu Yi-shian (201, 1972)
PF Huang Chun-hsiung (201, 1971)
SF Hsiung Jen-jen (192, 1972)
SG Lo Shin-liang (183, 1971)
PG Chou Jun-san (173, 1969)

Key Subs: SF Hsu Yong-yi (192, 1973), C Tan Bo-chan (203, 1980), PG Chung Wei-kuo (177,1977)

Key Additions: Chung Wei-kuo (Jutai Tech), Tang Bo-chan (Jutai), PF Sun Kuo-chan (195, 1972), SG Chen Shi-jay (173, 1984), PG Hong Chih-shan (174, 1985), PF Hsu Kai-jay (198, 1985), PF Kao Li-min (194, 1979)

Key Losses: Shan Wei-fan (Jutai Tech)

Chou Jun-san and Lo Shin-liang is the best backcourt you can find. At 34, Chou is still capable of putting on a 20 point-10 assists show night in and night out. And you can only wish you don’t leave Lo open. He will punish you with his deadeye shooting.

Center Liu Yi-shian is a late-bloomer who earned his reputation as the best post defender in China’s CBA. Huang Chun-hsiung is so versatile that he can play all three frontcourt positions. Hsiung Jen-jen is a hard-nosed defender who will take on anybody.

In other words, SINA has an almost perfect starting five. Some people go as far as saying they are even better than the current national team.

SINA’s starters average 32 years old, which means it’s not a good idea to play them a lot of minutes. And because of the gap between starters and the second-unit, the veterans can’t afford to have serious injuries.

Coach Hu doesn’t have a good reputation in X’s and O’s. SINA players pretty much have to figure out the way they want to play on their own.

SINA is definitely the team to beat in the inaugural SBL season, coming into the season as the No.1 favorite. With the experience in numerous international tournaments and the Chinese league, these guys know how to play. If the second unit can develop within a short time, you can count on seeing SINA in the finals.

Taiwan Beer

Head coach: Fu Ming-jen

Projected Starters:
F Wu Chih-yuan (200, 1983)
F Wu Yang-huei (194, 1981)
F Ho Sho-jen (195, 1982)
SG Lin Chih-jay (192, 1982)
PG Yang Chih-hao (175, 1974)

Key Subs: PG Chen Shi-nian (180, 1984), C/F Wu Jun-hsiung (198, 1984), C Hsu Cheng-wen (197, 1983), PF Chen Jian-cho (190, 1977), SG Huang Jin-ju (188, 1981)

Key Additions: Hsu Cheng-wen (Jutai Tech), Pan Jen-der (NTCPE, Div-II), Huang Jin-ju (Yitong Trust, Div-II)

Key Losses: None

NT players Ho Sho-jen and Lin Chih-jay form the best scoring punch at the 2/3 position. And Taiwan Beer (also named TTL) has been one of the deepest teams in the league for a long time.

They are not big, but they play a junkyard-dog style of game and will fight opponents to the last second.

Bringing in Huang Wan-long, one of the brightest high school coaches and is known for his high-intensity defense, will definitely make Taiwan Beer one of the best defensive teams in the league. It’s possible Taiwan Beer will use a lot of full-court press to wear down opponents.

Ho Sho-jen, Lin Chih-jay, Wu Chih-yuan and Chen Shi-nian are all players on the rise. Given a couple more years, they will be an awesome bunch.

This is a young team that needs time to grow together and learn from mistakes before playing consistently every night. Their perimeter shooting is always up-and-down and questioned.

Taiwan Beer has some tough mid-sized players who like to mix it up inside, like Wu Yang-huei and Lin Chih-jay. The interesting thing is, big men like Wu Chih-yuan and Wu Jun-hsiung are too soft inside.

Taiwan Beer needs a total upgrade at both ends of the court if they want to make it to the semi-final round. Talent is not a question. Focus, determination and executions are.

Jutai Technology

Head coach: Liu Hua-lin

Projected Starters:
C Ha Xiao-yuan (200, 1981)
PF Wu Dai-hao (202, 1985)
SF Shan Wei-fan (196, 1978)
SG Yang Yu-min (178, 1979)
PG Hsu Tse-shin (176, 1982)

Key Subs: PG/SG O-Yang Jin-hen (192, 1979), SF Lin Che-li (186, 1981), F Lin Che-wei (195, 1980)

Key Additions: Wu Dai-hao (Dacin), Shan Wei-fan (SINA), Wu Chen-dao (Military), Chen Shun-hsian (188, 1985, Rookie), Lo Chi-wen (194, 1985, Rookie)

Key Losses: Tan Bo-chan (SINA), Hsu Cheng-wen (Taiwan Beer), Hu Yu-wei (Mars), Chun Wei-kuo (SINA)

Not many teams can say they have two 6-7 guys at 4 and 5 and a 6-5 SF on the wing. Except Jutai. The frontline of Wu Dai-hao, Ha Xiao-yuan and Shan Wei-fan is probably the most complete frontcourt in the league. You have height advantage, defense and offense.

Don’t forget Yang Yu-min, the most reliable shooter in the league. Yang has the explosive first step to break down any defense. And his pull-up jumper is just unstoppable.

With the powerful frontline and deep bench, Jutai can beat anybody.

There is only one full time PG Hsu Tse-shin. And almost two-thirds of the players on the roster joined the team this season. Chemistry will be a problem. Also, Jutai’s half-court execution needs improvement.

Has the potential to challenge any team. The talent is there. All they need is good coaching and time to blossom.