Taiwan couldn't hold the five-point halftime lead and lost to Japan 78-66 in the opener, which is also the most important game, in the East Asia Basketball Championship in Nagoya, Japan Wednesday night.
After a 34-29 first half, everything went wrong for Taiwan NT as host Japan pulled off a 27-10 third quarter and led by as many as 22 points in the comeback win.
Tien Lei, who always performed well facing Japan, scored only two points and pulled down 8 rebound. He missed all six shots. Taiwan was led by Chen Shih-nian's 16 points. Center Wu Tai-hao added 10 points.
Japan outrebounded Taiwan 41-30. Center Joji Takeuchi led the team with 15 points. 39-year-old veteran Takehiko Orimo acored 12 points while Daiji Yamada had 11.
After the Japan loss, Taiwan's chance of winning one of two Asian Championship seeds will be slim. Taiwan is scheduled to meet Mongolia in a must-win game Thursday. If Taiwan beats Mongolia, it will advance to the semifinal where it expects to meet either China or South Korea.
Group A: China, South Korea, Hong Kong
Group B: Japan, Taiwan, Mongolia
Top two teams in each group advance to the semifinal. Top two teams in the tournament win the seeds for Asian Championship. If AC host China finished in the top two, the third-place team will be granted the seed.