Dominating his opponents in every facet of the game, Pure Youth Constructions center Jien Jia-hong landed the Player of the Week award in the Super Basketball League this week for his outstanding on-court presence in leading his team to a pair of big wins last weekend.
The second-year big man out of Tsai Hsin Senior High School became the second straight Tsai Hsin alum to pick up the weekly honor. His former high school mate Chang Bo-sheng of Bank of Taiwan earned the nod from the members of the Association of Basketball Writers last week for his tremendous play the previous week.
Jien began his week by tying a career-high points total of 35 in the builders' 107-100 trouncing of Taiwan Beer last Saturday, before finishing off the week with 33 more against the Dacin Tigers in a narrow 82-78 victory to account for more than 40 percent of Pure Youth's total offense output.
PHOTO: LIN CHENG-KUN, TAIPEI TIMES
He attributed his recent success to having found a clear role for himself on the team, as opposed to earlier this season, when he had doubts about whether he was to take the ball to the hoop or dish it off to his teammates.
"Not knowing what my role was earlier this season really hurt our game," Jien said after learning of his selection to the weekly honor.
"I have to make them [the opponents] guard me first by driving hard to the basket before I can pass it off to the open guys outside," he said.
Pure Youth will have a chance to make a strong statement against the rest of the league this weekend with three big contests versus formidable clubs, starting with tonight's match against the bankers at the Taipei County Sports Complex before taking on the second-place dmedia Numen tomorrow afternoon and rounding off the weekend with a showdown against the defending champs, Taiwan Beer, on Sunday.
The game against Bank of Taiwan may not present Pure Youth with too much trouble, since the bankers do not have a legitimate center to keep Jien in check and will likely have to give up guarding against the outside shots in order to zone up against Jien inside the paint.
However, the rest of the weekend will not be a walk in the park for Pure Youth as they prepare for the high-flying Numen, winners of three of their last four with all-purpose forward Jonathan Sanders ready to rub elbows with Jien.
Tensions will be high in Sunday's game against Taiwan Beer, as the beer crew will undoubtedly look to avenge their embarrassing loss last Sunday with Wu Dai-hao (also a former Tsai Hsin alumnus) pounding the ball inside against the smaller Jien.
Defensively for Pure Youth, skipper Hsu jin-tseh will also have to solve the perimeter game of Taiwan Beer shooter Ho Sho-cheng and newly acquired guard Yen Hsing-shu to make it two straight wins over the defending champs.
In addition to Pure Youth's game versus the bankers at 6pm tonight to jumpstart the final weekend of play before the Lunar New Year break, Taiwan Beer will also take on the Taiwan Mobile Leopards at 8pm in what should be an easy win for the brew crew, as the Leopards have lost five in a row in a terrible midseason slump.
Taiwan Beer's three-point attack will have a field day facing the Leopards defense, with the smaller and slower Leopards lineup forced to be drawn in to defend against the inside attack of Wu.
Lin "the Beast" Chih-jeh, who did not have a particularly good showing last week, will also try to break out of a low with a big game against the Leopards, whether it is driving strong to the hoop or stepping back for his patented NBA-range threes.
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