Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Ex-Yulon head coach dies of cancer

(Chien Yi-fei, right, and Lee Yun-kwang, source: ESPN Taiwan)

Former Yulon Dinos head coach Chien Yi-fei, one of the most respected coaches in Taiwan, passed away Oct. 1 because of nasopharyngeal cancer.

Chien (1948-2007), who was the only coach who has been a head coach for both the men's and women's national team, was known for his stress on defense and discpline. His team was always ready to play.

A former Taiwan NT star guard, Chien started his coaching career in 1980 by first coaching women's teams in the A-League. He coached Taiwan women's NT in the 1994 Asian Games and the 1995 Asian Championship.

In that same year, Chien took Yulon to the title in the inaugural CBA season (94-95) and was named coach of the year. During 1995-1999, Chien had a 148-71 record in the now defuct CBA, all with Yulon.

Chien was named head coach of the men's national team in 1999 and took the team to 2001 Osaka East Asian Games silver by starting the "Youth Movement" in the NT program. He got rid of veterans like Huang Chun-hsiung, Chou Jun-san and Lo Shin-liang and only kept players under age 22, such as Tsun Wen-din, Wu Dai-hao, Tien Lei and Chen Hsin-an. The decision drew a lot of criticism from fans and critics though.

Chien took Yulon to three-peat (2003-04, 2004-05, 2005-06) in the SBL, which was founded in 2003. Although he was still the head coac on paper, he has handed the head coach responsibility to his prestige Lee Yun-kwang due to worsened condition since 2004.