Taiwan head coach Hung Ling-yao. (FIBA.com)
Chiang Feng-chun and Lin Hui-mei on defense. (FIBA.com)
Taiwan women’s NT lost to Cuba 96-79 in the opening game of the 2008 Olympics Qualifiers, which is being held in Madrid, Spain.
Once again, Taiwan had a very good first half but had trouble to finish the game off. Led by three points early in the third quarter, Taiwan couldn’t stop Cuba’s inside and outside attack in the final 20 minutes, which turned into a rout. Taiwan trailed by as many as 21 points in the final period.
Veteran Chien Wei-chuan led Taiwan with 18 points and 6 rebounds. Chiang Feng-chun followed with 16 and Cheng Hui-yun had 13 points and 5 boards. Point guard Wen Chi had 11 points, 8 rebounds and 5 assists.
The team actually shot well, shooting 49.2% as a team, but Cuba was even better at 50%. Taiwan obviously was hurt by its 21 turnovers.
Taiwan will have to beat its next opponent Belarus on June 11 to make the quarterfinal round. Another loss means Taiwan will be saying goodbye to Beijing.
FIBA.com game recap:
MADRID (FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament for Women) – Cuba have serious designs on reaching the Beijing Games but they almost came unstuck against Chinese Taipei on Monday.
Alberto Zabala’s team led 52-51 midway through the third quarter but finally woke up and beat the opponents from the Far East 96-79.
Yakelyn Plutin had 19 points and 13 rebounds but the Cubans’ biggest contribution came from the red-hot three-point shooter Suchitel Avila, a player who will have a statue erected in her honour back in Havana if she continues to play as she did on Monday.
Avila erupted for 15 of her game-high 20 points in the fourth quarter when Cuba finally put away their opponents.
She buried four of six shots from behind the arc and also grabbed five rebounds.
Cuba will take on Belarus on Tuesday and Chinese Taipei will face the same opponents on Wednesday.