With Taiwan trailing by 17 points midway through the second quarter of their quarter-final showdown against China at the FIBA Asia Championship in Metro Manila yesterday, history seemed to be repeating itself.
Taiwan had lost all 10 previous encounters with China at the biennial Asian basketball championship by double-digit margins, and even a rally at the end of the half to cut the deficit to 50-40 appeared to be nothing more than a temporary surge.
However, in one of the most incredible explosions in the country’s basketball history, Taiwan scored 56 points after the break on 22-31 shooting and played tenacious defense to emerge with a stunning 96-78 triumph.
The victory put Taiwan in the FIBA Asia Championship semi-finals for the first time since 1999 and kept them in contention for a top-three finish that would provide an automatic berth at next year’s Basketball World Cup.
Taiwan face undefeated tournament favorites Iran today for a place in the tournament final.
Though China had former NBA players Yi Jianlian and Wang Zhizhi in their lineup, they had shown cracks earlier in the tournament, losing to both Iran and South Korea.
However, the shellacking they took in the second half was nothing short of shocking, especially after the Chinese controlled the tempo in the first half and made over 50 percent of their shots.
Former Chinese national team head coach Wang Fei called the outcome “incredible and incomprehensible.”