Monday, January 28, 2008

SBL weekly observations

It's been a week full of surprises, upsets and high-scoring individual performances in the SBL. Let's take a look back at the week that was:

The emergence of Pure Youth

Believe it or not, Pure Youth has won five of its last six games. It is now 7-11 and challenging Dacin's No. 4 spot in the standings.

The primary reason for this unexpected emerge was Chien Jia-hong. The 196cm center had two 30-plus games during the week, scoring a career-high 35 points in the 107-100 win over Taiwan Beer and followed with a 33-point performance the next night, an 82-78 victory over Dacin.

It seemed that Chien, who was suspended for punching opponents earlier this season, has walked out of the shadow of the suspension and focused on his game. The surprise was Chien, who was primarily an inside player, slowly added a perimeter game to his arsenal and is now comfortable launching shots from the outside.

Chien's high school classmate Zuo Tsun-kai also bagged a career-high 33 points in the TB game. Zuo, who has been known for his offensive talent since junior high, has finally found his confidence and consistency.

Short-handed Dinos

Taiwan Beer beat Yulon again Sunday, but they wouldn't laugh if they were smart enough. Winning by only seven with four Dinos starters sitting out with injuries was definitely not something to happy about.

Yulon's starting center Tsun Wen-din has been nursing his knee injuries for weeks. Same goes to starting point guard Chen Chih-chun, the heart and soul of the team. Yang Che-yi (shoulder) and Lee Chi-yi (ankle) also sat out the game.

Oh, Ouyang!

One more explosive scorer in the last week – dmedia forward/guard Ouyang Jin-hen, who came out of nowhere to surprise everyone with his 19.2 point per game scoring average this season, which ranked him as the No. 2 scoring leader behind only Chen Hsin-an (20.8ppg).

Ouyang tallied a career-high 42 points Sunday in a 96-72 win over Bank of Taiwan, shooting 14-of-24 from the field and 8-of-8 from the free-throw line.

I wonder what dmedia head coach Wu Jian-kuo had done to motivate Ouyang this season. The 28-year-old was seen as the next big thing as a combo guard throughout his high school career but has been disappointing in the A-League and the SBL. Anyway, he has been a different player this year. And it's always good to see a story like that.

Yen is back

Yen Shin-shu was back with the SBL after spending four years in the entertainment business and a short stint in the Chinese CBA. Yen, who plays for Taiwan Beer, had two points and two assists in five minutes Saturday.

It was not too long ago that Yen led all players in assists in the Asian Championship. After four years in the show business, the fans still expect the 31-year-old guard to be as good as he was, evidenced by those screaming sound (of girls...) from the courtside.

Yen should be able to direct TB's halfcourt offense once he regains his fitness. However that gives TB a problem. Will Yen replace Chen Shih-nian as the starting point? Can backup PG Hsu hao-cheng fiind any playing time after Yen's arrival?

By the way, I always think that Hsu should be TB's starting point guard, not Chen.

Low attendence
SBL attendence hit a new low Saturday with only 102 tickets sold. Yes, 102 fans bothered to buy tickets for a triple-header! Didn't the league say it has established solid reputation with four years of hard work and is looking at a bright future?

In fact, the attedence record has not been doing well for a while ever since the league moved the main stadium from downtown Taipei to Sinjhuang, Taipei County as the TPEC Gym, the main arena SBL has been playing for the last four years, is still under construction.

People said Sinjhuang was too far away from Taipei City and it's not convenient for fans to get there. Maybe. However, when the regular season games were played in Taichung for two weeks earlier, the attendence number also dropped dramatically in the second week.

That probably tells you the SBL has a lot of issues for concerns other than its image problem.

(Photo source: ESPN Taiwan)