Regular season action kicked off in the Super Basketball League (SBL) on Saturday afternoon, with the Dacin Tigers downing Kinmen Liquor in a come-from-behind 73-67 win and the Yulon Dinos edging past Taiwan Beer in a 72-67 thriller at the Miaoli County Sports Complex.
An outstanding effort by veteran guard Chang Chih-fong — who netted a game-high 24 points and seven rebounds — set the cats off in the right direction after a disappointing campaign last year that saw them miss the postseason for the first time in five years.
Kinmen Liquor surprised the 6,000-plus Miaoli crowd with a 7-0 run to start the game en route to a high-scoring 25-15 finish by the end of the first quarter. The Tigers returned the favor with a 10-2 run in a solid second quarter to bring his team within four of Kinmen Liquor (38-34) at the half.
A 7-2 run by the Tigers in the opening minute of the third quarter gave them the lead for the first time as the game quickly turned into a seesaw battle with neither team able to gain a lead of more than four points.
But with the game on the line, the Tigers’ superior experience tipped the scale in their favor when in the closing minutes Chang cut loose on a breakaway layup against the full-court press defense by Kinmen Liquor, putting the cats ahead for good in an eventual 73-67 triumph.
Team icon Tien Lei’s return to action after a dismal, injury-filled season last year was far from spectacular, but the former league MVP still contributed a great deal with 13 points and 10 boards in a respectable double-double outing.
DINOS 72 TAIWAN BEER 67
The Yulon Dinos converted all six of their free-throw attempts over the final two minutes to fend off a tenacious Taiwan Beer rally in their season-opening 72-67 victory in Game 2 at Miaoli on Saturday.
The rematch of last year’s championship finals was all Dinos from the opening quarter despite a fast start by the beer crew that gave them a brief 9-2 lead during the first three minutes of the contest.
Taiwan Beer finally played in champ-like form in the last quarter, launching a comeback that nearly erased a 14-point deficit to come within one of the Dinos (67-68). But the game was sealed when Yen Hsing-shu’s intentional foul on a breakaway layup attempt by Yulon’s Chang Yi-ming with 16 seconds remaining in the game gave the Dinos possession of the ball after the foul shots.
Four Dinos players scored in double-digits, with Chou Shih-yuan leading with 27. It was a great start for the shooting guard, who struggled in the last two seasons as his scoring average dropped from 14.4 points per game in 2006 to 12.7 in 2007 and 7.5 last year.