Tseng Wen-ding's put-back basket with one second remaining was the difference in the game as Taiwan's Super Basketball League champs, the Yulon Dinos, beat the Osaka Evessa of Japan 86-84 in the final game of the preliminary round of the 2006 Hualien Probation Basketball Invitational Tournament Saturday to qualify for the championship game against South Korea.
It was only three weeks ago that Tseng's teammate Chou Hong-yu tapped back a missed shot from Tseng in similar fashion to score the title-clinching basket in Game 5 of the SBL finals to give the Dinos their third straight league title.
"Now I know what it [tapping back the game-winner] feels like," Tseng said after the game.
Chen "Airman" Hsin-an also drained nine three-pointers on a game-high 38-point effort to go along with Tseng's 22, to account for nearly 70 percent of the Dinos' total offense in the game.
The dynamic tandem worked the inside-outside attack for Yulon to perfection, with Tseng gaining a size advantage over his Japanese rivals down below, while Chen's deadly shooting from the long range kept the defenders from sagging inside to help defend against Tseng.
After Chen's ninth three-pointer in the game that put the Dinos ahead 84-81 with 16.4 seconds remaining, the Evessa's Matt Lottich (of the US) answered with a three of his own with 9.2 seconds on the clock, setting the stage for Tseng's late-game heroics.
Antelopes 89, Taiwan Beer 86
The ETTV Antelopes won their second game of the preliminary round Saturday by clipping Taiwan Beer in a 89-86 final to secure a chance to play Team Japan for the third-place finish.
Point man Chen Shih-nian for Taiwan Beer received minimal support from a starting lineup that did not include three of Taiwan Beer's regular starters Ho Sho-cheng, Lin "The Beast" Chih-jeh, and Ha Hsiao-yuan because of injuries as the brew crew fell for the second time to end the preliminary round with a 2-2 record.
Chen Shih-nian had a chance to force a tie with a long three in the closing seconds of the contest, but the shot fell way short of the basket for an air ball.
South Korea 96, Philippines 80
South Korea cruised its way into the championship game with a 4-0 mark in Group A's preliminary round action by topping Team Philippines 96-80.
The squad from the Kyong Hee University held a flat Filipino team to 43 points for the first three quarters to take a 69-43 leading, making the final quarter a mere matter of formality.
Team Japan 119, Tigers 97
Playing its second game of the day, Team Japan scored a huge victory over the Dacin Tigers in a 119-97 final that featured two technical fouls on Lynn Washington and a unsportsmanlike conduct foul by the Tigers' Lin Yi-hui in a hot-tempered affair.
The absence of top Tigers scorer Tien Lei because of injury disappointed many of the Tigers fans on hand who had traveled to Hualien to see their idol up close, as the SBL's season MVP sat out the tournament to nurse an injury that he sustained in late April.
Hunters 83, Bank of Taiwan 80
The Videoland Hunters collected their first win of the tournament with a narrow 83-80 triumph over Bank of Taiwan.
It took 30 fourth-quarter points by the Hunters to overcome a 55-53 deficit after three quarters of play for the hard-fought win.