Is Taiwanese basketball only good enough for the 11th place in Asia? At least it was in 2003 Asian Championship. But a lot of people don't believe it and obviously Taiwan NT doesn't buy it. Two years after the worst finish in Asian Championship history, Taiwan NT left for Doha, Qatar yesterday looking for that sweet redmption, although it's without four wing players -- including its top player Chen Hsin-an.
Losing Chen Hsin-an(Ranked 3rd in SBL scoring last season), Lin Chi-jay(SBL scoring leader last season), Chang Chi-feng(11th in scoring) and Ho Sho-jen(8th in scoring) definitely hurts. But head coach Lee Yun-kwang, taking over the team after a two-year hiatus, is determined to lead Taiwan back to Asian basketball powers. He sets top six as the goal for this team.
The first step to make it back to Asia elite will be making the quarterfinals. It will not be easy for Taiwan as it's in the same preliminary bracket with China, Iran and Uzbekistan. Some people call it the Death Group. China will definitely win the group. That leaves one spot for the remaining three teams.
To win the last seed, Taiwan has to beat Iran, which is a tough task since Iran features three big men -- 223cm Jaber Rouzbahani, 216cm Hamad Hadadi and 209cm Mohammed Shahsavand. Coach Lee knows how hard it is but wouldn't give up before even playing its opponent. He also knows Taiwan has to protect its defensive rebounds, limit Iran's interior attack and look for every fastbreak opportunity.
It's almost the most important game for Taiwan NT in the championship. If it loses it, the best finish for them will be the eighth place.
Tsun Wen-din and Wu Dai-hao will be the key players in the championship. Tsun, who won SBL Finals MVP, and Wu, who enrolled in BYU-Hawaii last week, have to protect the paint, hit the glass and avoid foul trouble to play extended minutes. In other words, Tsun and Wu have to anchor Taiwan's defense, which is the key factor for this team to be successful after losing so many talented offensive players.
On offense, Taiwan will rely heavily on its outside shot once again. Two-time SBL regular season MVP Tien Lei will have to step up and be the leader, playing inside and out. As the best passing big man on the team, Tsun Wen-din will also play an important role. And Taiwanese guards will have to hit their open shots. Chou Shih-yuan and Yang Yu-ming will shoulder major pressure at the perimeter.
**Taiwan NT 12-man Roster for 2005 Asian Championship
(Position, Name, Height, Age, Team)
PG Chen Chih-chun 180 77 28 Yulon
PG Lee Hsueh-lin 175 75 21 Yulon
PG Wang Chih-chun 180 75 23 Dacin
PG Chen Shih-nian 180 76 21 Taiwan Beer
SG Chou Shih-yuan 190 80 22 Yulon
SG Yang Yu-min 180 73 26 ETSN
SF Yang Che-yi 193 85 27 Videoland
SF Yang Chin-min 188 81 21 Bank of Taiwan
PF Lee Chi-yi 198 88 27 Videoland
PF Tien Lei 202 88 22 Dacin
C Wu Dai-hao 202 100 20 ETSN
C Tsun Wen-din 202 90 21 Yulon
Head coach: Lee Yun-kwang(Yulon)
Assistants: Chou Hai-jung(VL), Shiu Tsun-chih(Yulon), Dong-fan Che-ter(Yulon)