Wednesday, February 04, 2004

Mid-season look at SBL teams

The 11-game winning streak says it all. This is a deep, balanced and experienced team who takes you 40-minute concentration in order to beat them. The consistent play from C Tsun Wen-din(12.5p, 10rb) and PG Chen Chih-chung(10.5p, 2.6s) takes a lot of pressure off of Chen Hsin-an(18.8p, 7.3rb, 3.9a). But Yulon is a different team without Chen, and sometimes they rely on Chen too much. Yulon is still expected to dominate the second half of the season though.

After the season-opening 3-game losing streak, they won their last 8 games. SINA’s experience helped them in the close games and recover from the slump. SINA basically relies on three veterans SG Lo Shin-liang(16.7p), PG Chou Jun-san(12.8p, 5.2a) and PF Huang Chun-hsiung(15.4p, 9.4rb), all older than 32. Throw in C Liu Yi-hsiang(9.8p, 5.9rb), these are four veterans who eat up most of SINA’s scoring load. The coaching staff needs to blend in younger players like Tan Bo-chan, Lin Yu-shu, Chen Shi-jay and Chun Wei-kuo with the vets in the second half. Otherwise, they are one major injury from collapsing again.

With his awesome stats – 22p, 11.5rb, 3.1s and 1.9blocks – Tien Lei established himself as the most versatile player in Taiwan. However Dacin still won only half of its games. SG Chang Chi-feng(9.5p, 5.3rb, 2s) needs to become a more assertive scorer to help Tien Lei. And head coach Liu Jia-fa may need to give veteran SF Hsu Chi-chao(13.4p) more playing time(less than 25 minutes per game) to help his younger teammates, who sometimes panic in crucial moments. PF/C Lee Fong-yong(7.4p, 4.5rb) also needs to step up following his brilliant play in last year’s President Cup. F Chen Tse-wei improved quite a bit, showing his determination to defend downlow.

The inside play of F Lee Chi-yi(12.7p, 8.8rb) and C Lai Kuo-hong(12.7p, 5.4rb) dominates most of Mars’ offense. But this team has been hurt by different injuries of core players like PG Yen Shin-shu(9.7p, 4.3rb, 4.4a, 2.4s) and SF Yang Che-yi(8.9p). Combo guard Chen Huei(10.5p, 4.3rb, 4.1a, 2.2s) had an outstanding first half as lead guard or Yen’s backup and partner. If all players are helthy, Mars will push for a strong second half.

Jutai has been playing its way back to normal after the early season slump. Led by SG Yang Yu-ming(20.6p), Jutai is as deep as any team, with 6 players averaged more than 6.7 points per game. And they can hurt people when they’re on, just like they handed Yulon its first loss. C/F Wu Dai-hao(7.9p, 8.2rb, 2.2blocks) has been finding back his aggressiveness. Jutai needs him to step up more on the offensive end to become more consistent. F Shan Wei-fan(10.8p) and SG Wu Cheng-dao(9p) are both reliable scorer when needed.

Taiwan Beer(4-8)
Most will agree this is a one-man team that belongs to SF Lin Chih-jay(21.9p, 6.2rb, 3.8a, 1.5s) in the first half of the season.There is no double-digit scorer besides Lin. With NT player SF Ho Sho-jen(13 points in season debut), Ho and Lin are expected to form the most fearsome one-two punch in the league and take Taiwan Beer up a notch in the second half. But before that can happen, Taiwan Beer will need to make some rotation adjustments. TB also needs better decision-making from PG Chen Shih-nian(9.9p, 4.2rb, 4.3a), who costed TB a couple games with his turnovers and bad decisions. SG Pan Jen-der(9.9p), probably the most valuable sixth man in the league, is a pleasant find for TB.

Bank of Taiwan(2-10)
Don’t be fooled by their W-L record, BOT has been highly competitive in all games except the last two, when they basically just gave up and lost by a combined 40 points. But BOT was hurt a lot by numerous injuries. F Lo Da-wei will miss the entire season after injuring his knee in the opening game. PF Ju Yong-hong(10.9p, 8.9rb) and SF Lin Chun-feng(11.8p, 6.4rb) also missed a couple. Without help, C Chou Ben-tang(7.9p, 9.1rb, 1.4blocks) has no chance to deal with opponents in the paint by himself. SF Chen Shen-ya’s drawback is disappointing for BOT, who also need better play from its three-PG rotation of Wu Yong-jen(9.8p), Hsu Hao-cheng(6.1p, 4.8rb, 3a) and Chien Ming-fu.