The Super Basketball League (SBL) finals ended with the crowning of Taiwan Beer as the new champions after their 69-68 win over the Dacin Tigers on Saturday night, capping a storybook finish for the runners-up from a year ago.
Top Taiwan Beer scorer Lin "the Beast" Chih-jeh ran away with the MVP honors for the series for his tremendous contribution in leading his team by averaging 23.2 points and 8.3 rebounds per game over the six games it took for the beer crew to win its first-ever league title.
Even though the Beast saw his offensive production drop from last season's 24.7 points per game to this year's 21.6 points per game, statistics do not begin to explain the level of maturity and growth that the member of the A-Mei tribe has found in becoming an outstanding all-around player.
PHOTO COURTESY OF SBL
"Individual achievements are nothing compared to winning championships," Lin said after his team received the championship trophy from the SBL commissioner.
"As long as the team does well, it doesn't matter what stats I personally compile," he added.
The Beast's transformation has mirrored that of his team, as Taiwan Beer has gone from a loosely managed squad that was nearly dismantled two years ago to the pinnacle of the Taiwanese basketball world.
"Having all the guys live in the same dorm really helped us with our team building, not to mention the bonds that the players and the staff have formed over the long haul," Taiwan Beer skipper Yen Jia-hua said after the game.
The arrival of veteran guard Luo "the Natural" Hsin-liang and player-coach Chou Jung-san also paid immediate dividends for Taiwan Beer, as the experience and leadership that the former backcourt tandem for Taiwan's national team was reflected in the newfound poise and discipline that Taiwan Beer had missed for the past three seasons.
The addition of Luo and Chou also meant a deeper bench for Taiwan Beer this year. The bench played a critical role in the beer crew's Game-5 victory as reserves Hsu "the Fool" Hao-cheng and Lin Guan-luen came off the bench with solid efforts to fill in nicely for their slumping teammates.
"Just about all the things that needed to go right went right for us this year and that's what winning the championship is all about," Yen said.
His team's renewed focus made Taiwan Beer a feared opponent in the league and a crowd favorite for fans around the nation.
Perhaps the word "attitude" printed on the wrist bands of Taiwan Beer players best sums up the team's mental state.
After the Tigers had taken Game 2 and Game 3 to lead the series 2-1, Taiwan Beer maintained a positive attitude, refused to quit and won the final three games to clinch the series.
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