Friday, December 07, 2007

07-08 SBL Preview: Taiwan Mobile Clouded Leopards

Lin Shin-hwa (Source: ESPN Taiwan)

(Source: Apple Daily)

-- Last season: 21-9, 2nd in regular season; lost to Taiwan Beer 3-1 in the first round, beat Yulon 3-1 in the 3rd-place series.

-- Key additions: Hsu Wei-shen (Yulon), Liu Shen-yao (Yulon), Hsu Tse-shin (dmedia), Wu Min-hsien (rookie), Wei Wei (rookie)

-- Key subtractions: Lee Chi-yi (Yulon), Yang Che-yi (Yulon), Hu Yu-wei (BOT), Jonathan Sanders (dmedia), Lin Tsun-ching (BOT), Chen Li-wei, Lai Kuei-lin

-- Key changes: Videoland sold the team to Taiwan Mobile, one of Taiwan's largest mobile phone service providers. Former Taiwan NT star forward Cheng Chih-lung was named the new head coach of the team.

-- Analysis:

From personnel to ownership changes, Taiwan Mobile can almost be seen as a brand new team. In fact, the ownership change did not go without controversy, because the parent company of Taiwan Mobile -- Fubon Financial Holdings Co. -- will be in charge of the first ever sports lottery in Taiwan, which will be in operation in 2008.

The departure of Lee Chi-yi and Yang Che-yi (both signed with Yulon) was the biggest news of this past summer and hurt the Leopards a lot. Gone were 30 points and 15 boards from these two NT members, the main offensive options for the team in the past years.

Chen Huei, Lai Kuo-hong and Lin Shin-hwa were the main leftovers from the Videoland era and the veterans on the team. At 33 years-old, Lai is still capable of dominating the paint with his outstanding footworks against young and unexperienced opponents. Chen Huei has been a reliable floor general although his speed has been always in question. The trio is still expected to be the backbone of this young team because of their experience.

Steady improvement of the newcomers Liu Shen-yao and Hsu Wei-shen will ease some of the growing pains. Hsu can be an active rebounder and inside force and Liu is capable of picking up the scoring slack from the wing.

Wu Yong-jen can also start at point guard as his perimeter shooting will be a plus to fight for the starting position. Hsu Tse-shin will be the backup PG while versatile and hard-working sixth man Lee Wei-min switches between both wing positions.

Hong Chi-chao, a combo gaurd who experienced a horrible season last year under Videoland head coach Liu Chi-wei, should be able to have a fresh start with Cheng at the helm. The results remain to be seen though.

The development of rookies Yen Cheng-hong, Wei Wei and Wu Min-hsien, one of the top scorers in the high school league last year, will be interesting to watch.

It will take some time for Cheng Chih-lung, a top small forward in his playing days, to get to know his players more and develop his system, which was why Cheng did not set any goal before the season. As the regular season moves along, Cheng should be able to find a right mix.

-- Roster:
7 Chen Yao-ting F 1988.6.28 195
10 Deng An-cheng G 1985.11.06 185
19 Liu Shen-yao G/F 1983.11.24 190
25 Hsu Wei-shen F/C 1985.3.23 198
41 Hong Chi-chao G 1982.2.13 187
66 Lee Wei-min G 1981.4.29 185
11 Lai Kuo-hong C/F 1974.12.8 197
14 Hsu Kai-chieh C 1985.5.10 198
23 Yen Cheng-hong C 1986.2.5 196
33 Lin Shin-hwa C 1975.9.20 198
1 Wu Cheng-yu G 1983.11.28 186
3 Wei Wei G 1987.12.9 185
4 Wu Yong-jen G 1982.9.22 177
6 Wu Min-hsien G 1988.12.19 183
9 Hsu Tse-shin G 1982.6.4 177
17 Chen Huei G 1978.4.17 185