Fri, Feb 18, 2005 - Page 24 News List

Basketball resumes with Tigers stalking Antelopes

By Paul Huang  /  CONTRIBUTING REPORTER

Tien Lei in action for the Dacin Tigers.

PHOTO: SBL

Super Basketball League (SBL) action resume tonight with the Dacin Tigers taking on the ETTV Antelopes in Game 1 and the Bank of Taiwan facing Taiwan Beer in Game 2.

The Tigers are on a roll with four straight close victories (nine-point total margin of victory) and could pull themselves within a half-game behind the league-leading Videoland Hunters and the Yulon Dinos with a solid win over the Antelopes.

All eyes will be on power forward Tien Lei, the Tigers' team leader in both scoring and rebounding (averaging 21.4 points and 9.4 rebounds per game), as he looks to feast off the dazed Antelopes that are still in search of team unity in the absence of a sound floor leader (having had two coaching changes this season so far).

Things have not exactly been rosy for the Antelopes in the past month as they try to break out of their current 1-6 slump (the only victory came against the 1-13 Sina Lions on Jan. 29) with a win against the red-hot Tigers tonight. This is a must-win game for the Antelopes, in that the team morale is at an all-time low and a loss would not only set them further back in terms of the standings, but potentially destroy their confidence for the rest of the season.

Veteran field general Chou Jung-san must step up to the plate for the Antelopes by corralling the team around its all-star center Wu Dai-hao on offense and retrieving quickly on defense to take away any fast break opportunities for the speedy Tigers in their transition game.

Tonight's other contest will feature the resurging bankers of the Bank of Taiwan and the explosive beer crew of Taiwan Beer, two lightening fast clubs with unbelievable talent and energy, each at a critical juncture in their own season.

Pre-season favorite, Taiwan Beer, has gotten a little sloppy in its ball handling over the past five matches (having a 1-4 mark during the span), including an embarrassing loss to the previously winless Lions on Feb. 6, and a win tonight would definitely restore some much-needed confidence for the beermen.

Opposing clubs have learned to gang up on team leader Lin "the Beast" Chih-jeh when playing against the beermen and realized favorable results in the process. The men in the green uniform will have to revert to small forward Ho Sho-cheng and big man Ha Hsiao-yuan to pick up the scoring slack on offense by freeing themselves to receive the extra pass from Lin when he is double-or-triple teamed and switch alertly in guarding Lin's man on defense to protect him from getting into foul trouble.

Impressive wins over the Hunters and the Tigers right before the ten-day Lunar New Year break have made the bankers undoubtedly the most-improved club in the league heading into the second half. The financial wizards have found a way to solve every squad with the exception of the Dinos, while inching their way up the standings (from sixth to fourth place).

A victory over the beermen will certainly enhance the bankers' legitimacy around the league in addition to forcing a tie with Taiwan Beer for the third-place spot in the standings, an extra mental boost that could be the game-deciding factor for the bankers.

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