As expected, defending champions, the Yulon Dinos, beat the Sina Lions in the 2004 Super Basketball League (SBL) season opener.
The rematch of last season's championship final, however, was not the lopsided game that most had predicted because the Dinos looked sloppy on both ends of the floor at times and the Lions, a 20-point underdog, were not as weak as many had thought in the 75-70 final.
Neither club was able sustain any kind of continuity on offense as play through the first three quarters had the Dinos hanging onto a one-point lead.
It was not until small forward Chou Hung-yu's six-point effort that led to an 8-0 Dinos run midway through the fourth quarter, that the game was finally put away.
Veterans Luo Hsin-liang and Liu Yi-hsiang accounted for 39 of the Lions' 70 points, as they picked up the scoring slack that had been left shaky at best with the departure of three former starters from last year's squad.
Tigers 79, Hunters 85
The Video Land Hunters opened the 2004 season with a big bang in an impressive victory over the Dacin Tigers on Saturday.
The 85-79 final was no indication of how dominant the Hunters were as they held leads as big as 17 points in the third quarter before the Tigers attempted a rally in the fourth quarter that fell short by a half-dozen points.
After a close first quarter that resulted in a one-point Hunters' lead, the men with the riffles went after the dazed cats with a stingy, high-pressured defense that held the Tigers just six points for the entire second quarter.
Despite a sub-par performance, Tigers scoring threat Tien Lei led all scorers with 20 points to go along with the six boards he collected. His seven turnovers were nearly twice his season average from a year ago, leading coach Liu Jia-fa to wonder about his go-to guy's mental readiness.
Hunters 90, Antelopes 82
Seven record-setting three-pointers helped give the Hunters a 29-22 first-quarter lead which they would not relinquish in their 90-82 win over the ETTV Antelopes on Sunday.
The second game in as many days did not slow down the Hunters' attack as the squad carved through the Antelopes' defense with a deadly combination of sharp outside shooting (29-for-57 from the floor) and dominating low-post plays.
Power forward Lee Chi-yi continued his red-hot streak from the night before (17 points and seven rebounds) with 27 points and eight boards while his newly arrived front-court mate Hsiung Ren-cheng shut down the opposition with several stellar sequences on defense.
Bank of Taiwan 75,
Taiwan Beer 72
Sunday night's battle between Taiwan Beer and Bank of Taiwan was a classic David-versus-Goliath confrontation in which the club with no big stars (Bank of Taiwan) prevailed in a valiant showing.
The beermen dug themselves a deep hole by abandoning their half-court offense early in the third quarter after they watched their slim 30-29 halftime lead disappear with two key misfires by Lin "The Beast" Chih-jeh that led to two easy game-turning buckets for the bankers.
The often hastened three-point shooting by Taiwan Beer played right into the strength of the bankers as the misfires quickly turned into long defensive boards for the rebound-happy Bank of Taiwan.