Taiwan lost to host Qatar, 103-96, in an epic 2OT battle in the quarterfinal of the Doha Asian Games early Wednesday Taiwan Time. No matter. Most believed it was its best game in the tournament and all the players left their harts on the court.
Up next Taiwan will play in the 5-8 classification games with the other three quarterfinal losers: Japan, South Korea and Kazakhstan. China, Qatar, Iran and Jordan advanced to the semifinals.
Veteran Yasseen Ismail Musa scored 8 points in an 11-4 second overtime to help Qataris clinch the victory over Taiwan, a team it lost twice in this year's Jones Cup tournament.
Taiwan missed a great opportunity to seal the game with a win in the first overtime.
Yang Che-yi was fouled in his layup attempt with 5 seconds to go, when the score was tied at 92 all, but had to be taken out because of cramp. Chou Shih-yuan, designated to replace Yang as the foul shooter, missed both potential game-winning free-throws as the game entered the second extra session.
Taiwan, which led by as many as 11 points in the first half, was plagued by Qatar's relentless attack under the basket in the second half as the host team made it a three point game with under two minutes to go in regulation.
Chen Hsin-an converted two free-throws to increase Taiwan's lead to four, 80-76, before Musa's three-point play again cut the lead down to one point with 55 seconds remaining. Chen then made one of two free-throws after Musa committed an offensive foul as Taiwan could almost smelled the victory with less than 10 seconds remaining.
But Erfan Ali Saeed made sure the home crowd would not go home disappointed, making two free-throws to tie the game with 4.5 seconds left. Chen's desperation three-pointer missed the rim as the game went into overtime.
Taiwan NT has received a lot of criticism from fans and the media since the preliminary games for its lack of effort and defeatism as head coach Lee Yun-kwang revealed before the start of the tournament that the team would literally "give up" two games vs. China and Lebanon.
It lost to Japan by 10 in what was perceived as a winnable game and was routed by China in a 36-point loss. But it managed to squeeze by Kazakhstan by two and surprisingly beat Lebanon, which -- like our Lebanese correspondent wrote -- was a team that looked like they didn't want to be in Doha, to secure a quarterfinal berth.
Given the fact that Qatar as the host country and a strong team, few people gave Taiwan NT a chance before the quarterfinal clash. Now they know how close they were to the semifinal. The game probably can be an inspiration for the team to work harder and look into a bigger picture in the future.
Qatar 103-96(2OT) Taiwan
Quarter and OT scores: 18-25, 38-41, 61-66, 81-81, 92-92, 103-96
Qatar: Erfan Ali Saeed 27p+15rb, Ali Turki Ali 20p, Saad Abdulrahman Ali 19p+8rb, Yasseen Ismail Musa 15p, Omar Abdelkadar Salem 11p+11rb
Taiwan: Chen Hsin-an 24p, Yang Che-yi 23p(6-8 3PT), Lee Hsueh-lin 16p+7rb+5a, Tsun Wen-ding 16p, Tien Lei 12p+19rb