After losing to the eventual tournament champions from Qatar in the semifinals 71-49, Taiwan beat Syria 82-60 to finish third in the 2004 Federation of International Basketball (FIBA) Asia Stanovic Cup Championship at the Taipei Physical Education College Arena on Saturday.
The week-long competition included teams from Japan, South Korea, India, the Philippines, Kuwait, Qatar and Syria. The competition was divided into two groups of four teams playing in a round-robin preliminary before the top two finishers from each group advanced into the single-elimination semifinals.
The hosts, comprised mostly of players from Taiwan's professional Super Basketball League (SBL), practiced together for under three weeks before the competition.
With the third-place finish, Team Taiwan automatically qualified to compete in the 2005 Asian Championships.
Taiwan started the tournament with wins over India (98-61) and Kuwait (94-56) earlier in the week.
Qatar dominated South Korea with its height advantage and a powerful low-post game, winning the final 82-65.
Front-court tandem Chen Hsin-an and Tien Lei played an outstanding tournament for Taiwan, averaging 15.4 and 13.6 points, respectively.
Lin Chih-jeh, the SBL's 2003 scoring champ's sub-par performance may have cost Taiwan the opportunity to grab the winners trophy, as he averaged just 6.4 points per contest in the worst offensive showing of his career.
"We really hurt ourselves on offense with the limited time we had to train for the competition," head coach Hu Tsai-lin said. "Twenty days really aren't enough for any player to become familiar with the playing style and tendencies of his teammates."
Hu's squad has their work cut out for them if they wish to play well in the 2005 Asian Championships next fall.
Team Taiwan will also have to deal with the potential loss Chen Hsin-an, who will depart for a career with the Orange County Crush in the American Basketball Association later next month.