The 2005 Federation International de Basketball Amateur (FIBA) Asian Championship kicked off on Thursday in Doha, Qatar with teams from 16 nations competing for the right to represent Asia (top three finishers) in the 2006 World Championship in Japan next year.
Missing three of its top starters to various injuries (power forwards Lin Chih-jeh and Chen Hsin-an, and defensive specialist Chang Chih-fong), Team Taiwan will try to improve on its 11th-place finish in 2003 with a lineup featuring an all-star cast from the Super Basketball League.
Taiwan 111, Uzbekistan 71
There were no surprises in Taiwan's 111-71 win over Uzbekistan in Thursday's opener.
Despite a noticeable height disadvantage, Taiwan was able to move the ball around on the perimeters, creating the necessary seam inside the paint for easy buckets.
Taiwan also neutralized the Uzbek's size advantage with constant defensive pressure.
Tien Lei lived up his MVP status in the SBL by sinking five of six three-pointers, en route to a game-high 24-point night.
Backcourt tandem Chen Chih-chung and Yang Yu-ming also added 17 and 12 points, respectively.
China 76, Taiwan 58
The defending champs from China showed no signs of weakness in a convincing win over Taiwan on Friday.
Even though this year's 18-point margin of loss between the two teams was the lowest in 10 years (compared to the whopping 121-61 loss in the 2003 Asian Championship at Harbin, China), there was still a sizable disparity between the two squads.
Taiwan was able to keep the deficit at 10 points after the initial quarter of play (25-15), thanks to an eight-point effort by Tien.
But that was as close as it got, as the Yao Ming-led Chinese padded their lead by four (35-21) by the end of the first half and extended it to as many as 23 points.
Yao led all scorers with 15 points while playing for only 24 minutes.
Wu Dai-hao of the ETTV Antelopes led Taiwan with 10 points.