Chou Hong-yu and Chen "Airman" Hsin-an rose to the occasion on Saturday with the game-winning basket in overtime and three tie-forcing free throws in regulation time respectively, to lead the Yulon Dinos past Taiwan Beer in an 84-82 thriller.
The sellout crowd at the Taipei County Sports Complex in Sinjhuang saw the three-time champs fall behind to the brew crew by as many as a dozen in the first half and still manage to eke out the valiant victory thanks to the outstanding play of the Airman, whose nerve-wrecking three free throws with the game on the line in regulation time sent the game into extra-session to set up Chou's clutch jumper in the closing seconds of overtime that broke an 82-all gridlock for the win.
"It's one of those games that nobody wants to lose. We were down for most of the game but we never gave up," Chou said afterwards.
He's no stranger to clutch situations because it was his buzzer-beating put-back basket that won the title for the Dinos against the very same Taiwan Beer club two years ago.
The highly anticipated showdown between two of the top three teams in the league opened to a slow start with neither team able to find its range for several minutes before the Dinos' all-star center Tseng Wen-ding connected for nine tough points inside the paint to give his team a 19-16 lead after the initial quarter.
The beer crew would answer with its low-post game in the second quarter starring bruising bulldozer Ha Hsiao-yuan, whose five tough points inside the paint sparked an 8-0 run for Taiwan Beer as the first half came to a closing end with the men in their familiar green leading 39-28.
Tempers flared in a heated third quarter as the Dinos chipped away at the deficit to reduce it to three by the end of the quarter with a tenacious defense that limited Taiwan Beer to only 13 points in the quarter.
Lee Chi-yi's illegal hook on Taiwan Beer's Wu Dai-hao which dropped Wu to the floor with a neck injury ignited several unpleasant exchanges between the Dinos forward and the Taiwan Beer bench, resulting in a technical foul of unsportsmanlike conduct for Lee.
Taiwan Beer would regain some momentum after the incident and claim leads as large six points with 31 seconds remaining in regulation time in what seemed a sure win against its archrivals.
That was not the case, as the Dinos' Chou drained a surprising three-pointer to half the deficit at three before Chen was fouled on a three-point attempt that sent him to the free throw line three times for a chance to tie the game.
Tigers 69, Leopards 48
The Dacin Tigers had little trouble against the zone defense by the Taiwan Mobile Leopards earlier on Saturday with an easy 69-48 win to remain undefeated at 3-0 this season.
The renowned Tigers three-point attack was executed to perfection as Dacin shot an incredible 16-for-38 from behind the three-point arc that bombarded the Leopards 2-3 zone.
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