Sun, Feb 13, 2005 - Page 8 News List

Key to Tigers is no secret

By Paul Huang  /  CONTRIBUTING REPORTER

Part two of the three-part analysis of the first half of the season in the Super Basketball League will focus on the Dacin Tigers and Taiwan Beer, two middle-of-the-pack clubs that have flashed signs of brilliance.

These teams boast two of the league's top scorers, with Tien Lei for the Tigers and Lin "The Beast" Chih-jeh for Taiwan Beer.

Tough tigers

Winning five of their past six games by a combined total of 10 points, the Tigers are arguably the best finisher in close games, thanks to veteran forward Hsu "Birdie" Chih-chao's clutch shooting.

The 30-year-old, has either forced a tie or put his team on up in the closing moments of the game in four of the Tigers' past five wins.

Chang Chih-fong's amazing steal-to-turnover ratio (28-to-22), second only to the Yulon Dinos' league-leading Chou Shih-yuan (37-to-26), also gives the Tigers an added boost on loose balls.

One area of concern that coach Liu Jia-fa's players need to improve on before they turn into a championship caliber team is supremacy on the glass.

For a club with the Tigers' size and speed, there is no reason that it should be ranked dead last in rebounds, averaging 33.9 per game.

Opponents are now likely to zero in on Hsu during close games to take him out of the equation, so the Tigers will have to find a new clutch man or find a way to win by a bigger margin.

On again, off again

Inconsistency has hampered Taiwan Beer during the first half.

After winning seven of their first eight contest, the beermen have fallen back to a 1-4 mark in their last five games, with the lone win coming from an unusual outing where they rallied from a 22-point, third-quarter deficit to win the overtime against the ETTV Antelopes.

Their over-dependence on the Beast has made the beer crew quite easy to defend as opposing teams come up with schemes to contain the league's scoring leader.

Big man Ha Hsiao-yuan's inconsistent play in the middle, coupled with outside shooter Ho Sho-cheng's stone-cold perimeter game as of late, have made the preseason favorites a distant fourth in the standings.

Restoring Ha's confidence in the low post and Ho's shooting touch will be of the highest priority for coach Yen Jia-hua in the early going upon their return to action.

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