Outplayed by South Korea in every facet of the game, Taiwan fell short 75-57 in the bronze medal game of the FIBA Asia Championship in Manila last night to close out the tournament in fourth place.
Poor ball-handling against a fundamentally sound South Korea defense led to several unforced turnovers for Taiwan, several of which came during fast-break opportunities that cost the Islanders numerous easy scoring chances.
To make matters worse, most of the turnovers committed by Taiwan in the transition game would translate into fast-break points for South Korea on the other end of the floor, keeping Taiwan from gathering any kind of momentum.
“Taiwan were clearly affected by the loss to Iran in the semi-final as far as their ability to secure the ball was concerned,” basketball commentator Yen Hsing-shu said after the game.
The 17 self-destructing turnovers committed by Taiwan yesterday matched their turnover total in the loss to Iran on Saturday, making any comeback attempt virtually impossible.
Six quick points by South Korea sharpshooter Kim Joo-sung in the opening minutes helped his team take a 14-5 lead midway through the first quarter. South Korea shot better than 75 percent in a high-scoring first quarter to establish a commanding 29-13 advantage.
South Korea maintained their dominance in the second quarter, with Kim Min-goo coming off the bench to pour in 13 of his team’s 21 points in the quarter. The deficit quickly grew to an insurmountable 50-29 for Taiwan at the half, making the eventual loss a foregone conclusion long before the final buzzer sounded.
Kim Min-goo ended up with an outstanding eight-for-14 from the field for a game-high 21 points to lead a trio of double-digit scorers for the victors.
As for Taiwan, Lu Chen-ju with a team-high 13 points — six of which were in the first quarter — and Quincy Davis with a dozen, marked the two bright spots for the team that had edged past South Korea by three in the Jones Cup Tournament last month to surprise their foes from the north.
In the title game between undefeated Iran and the Philippines, it was Iran who had the last laugh, as they rolled past the hosts 85-71 to claim their third gold medal in the tournament.