Tue, Dec 23, 2003 - Page 20 News List

A lot to learn for teams at the bottom of the SBL table

BASEMENT BLUES Even the Jeoutai Elephants, languishing in last place in the league, have won a game, but the young team will have to start scoring points to move higher

By Paul Huang  /  CONTRIBUTING REPORTER

Tied for fourth place in the league standings with the Sina Lions are the Dacin Tigers, led by media darling Tien Lei (田壘) at the power forward position.

The 20-year-old graduate of National Taiwan Normal University patrols the paint for the Tigers with his 2.03m frame extremely well and is deadly from the perimeters when he is not dazzling opponents with his trademark low-post moves underneath.

Tien led the league in scoring through the first three weeks (averaging more than 23 points per game) before settling for second place in the fourth week. He is the only player in the league with a double-double average (22.6 points and 10 rebounds per game).

Despite Tien's overwhelming success in the early going, the Tigers are considered "underachievers" thus far, at 2-3, because the supporting cast has not been there for Tien.

Veteran teammates Chang Chih-fong (張智鋒) and Hsu Chih-chao (許智超) must cut down their turnovers and personal fouls if the Tigers want to be in the title hunt come next April.

Also at 2-3 are the Sina Lions, who won their last two games following a miserable 0-3 start.

The Lions suffered some early-season blues primarily because they were unable to run with the younger clubs that constantly tested the Lions' stamina.

Typically, the Lions would play competitively for three periods then run out of gas late in the game.

That trend changed in the past two contests, as the Lions were able to establish their own tempo and punch the ball down low to big man Huang Chuen-hsiung (黃春雄) for easy scoring opportunities.

Key man Luo Hsin-liang (羅興樑) also found his shooting touch from the floor, with the red-hot field general downing six three-pointers as part of a 33-point haul against Bank of Taiwan.

Luo was named "Mister Hustle of the Week" on Dec. 17 by the press for his surging effort at both ends of the court.

Inconsistent is the best way to describe Bank of Taiwan's first six games, as the young team struggles to find a steady winning formula.

Playing in its "A" game, Bank of Taiwan found itself on the winning end of a two-point thriller (89-87) against the Dacin Tigers in Week 1 before returning the favor against Taiwan Beer the next week in a two-point loss (81-83).

Then things fell apart for Bank of Taiwan as it faltered to its "B" form in two ugly losses against the BCC Mars (74-88) and the Sina Lions (60-83).

"Crashing the offensive board is what has kept us in many games; we definitely need to do more of that," a team official said, referring to the team's toughness inside and the physical playing style of muscle man Chu Yung-hung (朱永弘), who leads the league with 4.5 offensive rebounds per game. Bank of Taiwan leads the league in total rebounds with 44.2 per game.

Last but not least are the young Jeoutai Elephants, loser of four in a row with a 1-5 record. The Elephant offense has not clicked in the early stages, despite having the league's number three scorer in Yang Yu-ming (楊玉明) (averaging 18.7 points per game).

In additional to low scores (it is the only team with a below-70 points-per-game average), turnovers have also hurt the Elephants in their five losses (nearly 18 per contest).

While the Elephants will continue to take advantage of their speed and youth in playing a wide-open, fast-paced game, coach Liu Hua-lin (劉華林) must find a way to improve on his team's fundamentals, whether it is converting key free-throws, boxing out, or just following one's own shots.

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