Taiwanese basketball players returned home yesterday after their performance in the FIBA Asia Championship put Taiwan back among the top four Asian basketball teams after a 14-year absence.
In the tournament, Taiwan bested China — against whom they had lost all 10 previous encounters — 96-78.
The victory put Taiwan in the championship semi-finals for the first time since 1999 and kept them in contention for a top-three finish that would have provided an automatic berth at next year’s FIBA Basketball World Cup in Spain.
However, after losing to Iran and then South Korea, Taiwan had to settle for fourth place.
Lin “the Beast” Chih-jeh (林志傑) said the team would work harder and expressed regret that they were unable to punch their ticket to Spain.
Quincy Davis, a naturalized Republic of China citizen, said he was glad he was able to represent Taiwan in the tournament, adding that he had fun with his teammates.
Taiwan had a good chance of heading to Spain and the results showed that the team was under some pressure, Davis said, adding that the fans’ support made him want to play better.
Forward Tien Lei (田壘) said that the best moment was when Taiwan came from behind to catch up and then pass China in the third and fourth quarter.
Lee Hsueh-lin (李學林) said that although he was sidelined by injury, he was very moved that his teammates were able to win in the end, adding that his injuries were not severe and he would be soon be preparing for the East Asia Games.
Tseng Wen-ting (曾文鼎) said that he just wanted to lie down and rest after he got home.
Coach Hsu Chin-che (許晉哲) said that the number of fans who showed up to welcome the team home had exceeded his expectations, and gave his thanks to everyone that supported the team.
“Although we were unable to head to Spain for the playoffs, we did our best, and along the way bested China and the Philippines,” Hsu said, adding that his players had demonstrated great teamwork.
The team had an amazing chemistry on the court, Hsu said, adding that the one thing the players need to work on was their physical conditioning.
That is going to be the focus for the East Asian Games, he said.