Tue, Jan 09, 2007 - Page 20 News List

Red-hot Taiwan Beer crew impervious to winter chill

DOUBLE TROUBLE Taiwan Beer launched into the SBL season by sneaking in a come-from-behind overtime win over the Yulon Dinos before overpowering the Eagles


Chen Hsin-an, left, of Taiwan Beer tries to block Lin Chih-chieh of the Yulon Dinos in Taipei on Saturday.


Back-to-back wins by the popular Taiwan Beer squad over the weekend sent the Super Basketball League (SBL) off to a great start as fans flocked the Taipei Physical Education College Gymnasium to see their favorite basketball heroes in action despite the winter chill.

The red-hot beer crew first topped the defending champs (the Yulon Dinos) in a dramatic come-from-behind overtime win on Saturday night before making it two in a row in a 101-95 shootout over the Azio Eagles on Sunday evening to round out the weekend with a perfect 2-0 mark.

Taiwan Beer guard Luo "the Natural" Hsin-liang felt right at home against his former team with a 9-for-18 shooting on the night, including six three-pointers for his game-high, 28 points. The veteran was brought in by the Taiwan Beer front office during the offseason to provide some needed leadership to an otherwise inconsistent squad, and it seemed to pay immediate dividends for the most popular team in the league.

Also starring for the brew crew were top scoring threat Lin "the Beast" Chih-jeh with 21 points and seven rebounds and utility man Ho Sho-cheng, who followed his game-winning three-pointer in Saturday night's season-opening win over the Dinos with 18 points and six rebounds on Sunday.

The young and wild Eagles managed to hang tight with Taiwan Beer in an evenly fought first half that saw both offenses scoring at will against the opposing defense in a 49-48 halftime score in favor of the Eagles.

Then came the long-range bombers for Taiwan Beer that sank three threes over an impressive 14-2 run midway through the third quarter to set the Eagles back by more then 10 before shooting guard Hong Chih-shan struck for a pair of threes in the closing minute of the quarter to pull his team within five points of Taiwan Beer at 81-76.

The Eagles were able to cut the Taiwan Beer lead to as small as three points in the early going of the final quarter, but that was as close as they got, as the beer crew strung together one final offensive that upped its lead back to double digits, sending the birds packing way before the final buzzer.

Five different players scored in double figures for Azio in the game, with forward Hsu Ching-shih leading the pack with 18 points (all in the first half). But that was not nearly enough to secure the win as the porous Eagles defense allowed 101 points in the game for the distinction to be the first club to lose hold of the 100-point scoring mark.

Bank of Taiwan 92, Tigers 91

Solid efforts by forwards Lin "Killer Bee" Chuin-fong and Yueh Ying-li propelled Bank of Taiwan past the Dacin Tigers in a nail-biting 92-91 win on Sunday to give the bankers a perfect 4-0 record in all four of their season openers dating back to 2003.

The new one-two punch for the bankers racked up 22 and 20 points respectively to help their club fend off the Tigers in the narrow victory.

Despite losing their top point guard Wu Yong-ren to the Videoland Hunters during the offseason that had most experts picking the bankers to finish second from last this year, the financial wizards showed no signs of slowing down with an in-your-face defense and deadly three-point attack that dealt the Tigers their first loss of the season.

Even though pretty boy and three-time season MVP winner Tien Lei had his usual double-double with 34 points and 13 rebounds in a great all-around performance, the Tigers failed to connect on what would have been a game-winning shot in the final second, when forward Lin Yi-hui just missed the 10-footer with the bankers' Killer Bee in his face.

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