Sunday, July 16, 2006

Jones Cup Semifinal - Taiwan beat Qatar again to meet AIA for gold

Never underestimate the home team. Taiwan NT once again routed Qatar, 83-63, for the second time in three nights to win the 2006 Jones Cup semifinal and booked the final ticket as the No.4 seed. Taiwan will meet Athletes in Action, which routed Korea University Select Team in the other semi, 88-74, in the title game tomorrow.

Qatar, which entered the semifinal round with a 6-1 record as the No.1 seed, will play Korea for the bronze medal. For a team that won the bronze medal in the last Asian Championship, it's hard to believe they dropped two games to Taiwan, ninth-place in the last Asian Championship, by a combined margin of 41 points.

Simply put, Qatar's outside shot did not fall for the second consecutive game. And give Taiwan's defense credit. With center Tsun Wen-din, who sat out the last game due to a sprained right ankle, anchoring the zone defense from the middle, Taiwan almost led from start to finish and never gave Qatar a chance, leading by as many as 25.

Lee Hsueh-lin had a team-high 23 points and 7 assists. Tien Lei followed with 19 points, including four 3-pointers in the final quarter that put the Qatari away. Tsun Wen-din tallied 15 points and 8 blocks while Yang Che-yi scored 11.

Taiwan head coach Lee Yun-kwang made a bold move when he played Chen Hsin-an, who's regarded by many as Taiwan's best player but had been playing without concentration and defense lately, for only six minutes. Chen had only 3 points in the game but Taiwan's offensive flow was obviously better without him.

Athletes in Action dominated the paint and limited the Koreans for only 10 for 39 from the 3-point line in the other lopsided game.

In other games, Kazakhstan beat Japan U-24 NT, 104-86. Yusuke Okada, the tournament's leading scorer, still had 30 points though. Philippines edged Australia U-19 NT, 69-67, thanks to John Arigo's winning basket with 22 seconds to go.

Kazakhstan will meet Philippines in the 5th-place game and Australia will play Japan in the 7th-place game tomorrow, the last day of the tournament.