Jien Jia-hong and Tso Tsong-kai both played the game of their life with 68 combined points to account for nearly 70 percent of Pure Youth Constructions' total offense as it downed Taiwan Beer in a 107-100 win at the Taipei County sports Complex on Saturday evening.
The dynamic scoring tandem, the former, who tied a career-high with 35 points, and the latter, who set a new personal best with 33, made sure that Pure Youth would not fall apart in the final quarter like it had done earlier in the season by hitting several rally-killing shots against Taiwan Beer to preserve the victory.
The builders could seem to do no wrong from the get go with 31 first-quarter points versus the brewers' 25 and managed to extend that lead by as many as 21 (51-30) in a fast-paced second quarter before closing out the first half with a surprising 54-40 advantage.
After an emotional halftime talk by interim coach Chou Jung-san to motivate his troops, Taiwan Beer came out firing in the third quarter with big three's from veteran guard Luo Hsin-liang to fall within a deuce of Pure Youth (69-71).
But that was as close as it got as Jien and Tso continued their red-hot shooting with clutch buckets down the stretch to keep the defending champs at bay the rest of the way.
Three other starters for Pure Youth also scored in double-digits to complement Jien and Tso's monstrous game, led by Chen Shih-jeh's 13 points and a season-high eight assists.
As for Taiwan Beer, the 16 turnovers it committed compared to Pure Youth's nine proved to be the difference in the game as they dropped two in a row for the first time this season.
DINOS 86, NUMEN 79
The top-ranked Yulon Dinos needed a strong fourth quarter to defeat the dmedia Numen in an 86-79 decision in the earlier game on Saturday to claim a three-game lead over the second-place Numen.
Despite missing three of their regular starters in Tseng Wen-ding, Chen Chih-chung and Yang Tseh-yi due to various injuries, the ten-deep Dinos played the Numen tough with a spectacular showing from Chou Shih-yuan, whose season-high 30 points more than took the scoring burden off fellow forward Chen "Airman" Hsin-an whom the Numen frontcourt guarded heavily in the absence of Tseng and Yang.
Point man Lee hsueh-lin also chipped in 19 points and four assists to help his club end a rare four-game slump that netted the three-time champs three losses.
The battle between the top two squads in the league saw neither team able to pull away early in a 22-all draw after the opening quarter before the Dinos ended the first half on an 8-2 run to claim a 46-44 lead.
Yulon eventually went up by ten midway through the third behind consecutive three's by Chou and Lee, only to spark a counteroffensive by the Numen with two long three's of their own to keep it a two-point game at (67-65) at the end of the third.
Just when the Numen appeared to make a serious run for the Dinos' money, the league-leaders decided to up their defensive effort a notch with a tenacious man-to-man coverage that limited the Numen to single-digit scoring through the first six minutes of the fourth. And that was more than ample for the Dinos as they pulled away in the end to pocket the win.
TIGERS 62, LEOPARDS 51
Trouble continued for the free-falling Taiwan Mobile Leopards as they fell to the Dacin Tigers in a 51-62 final for their fifth straight defeat.