Favorites won their respective games in the SBL on Friday night, with the Taiwan Mobile Leopards downing Bank of Taiwan 75-66 and the Yulon Luxgens cruising past Pure Youth 109-90 at the Hsinchu County Arena.
Even though they ended up winning the game by nine points, the Leopards showed little joy after the game. What should have been a clean blowout against the last-place bankers turned into a dogfight in which the Leopards trailed after three quarters of play before a 30-point fourth saved the day.
Failure to secure the defensive glass headed a list of problems for Leopards skipper Cheng Chih-long and his crew as they allowed 20 offensive rebounds to a hungry bankers’ squad, leading to at least a half-dozen easy put-back buckets for Bank of Taiwan. Sloppy ball-handling and poor passing on the part of the Leopards translated into 19 turnovers that also helped prevent them from pulling away until the very end.
The absence of big man Mario Boggan, who was serving the first game of a four-game suspension, was the main reason that the Leopards struggled on the defensive glass. To add insult to injury, the remaining three games on Boggan’s suspension are all against top-tier teams — the Dacin Tigers, the Yulon Luxgens and Taiwan Beer — which could mean the Leopards will suffer three more defeats before next Sunday’s rematch against the bankers.
“There is obviously a big gap we have to fill because others [teams] will undoubtedly try to exploit our weakness inside,” Cheng said after the game.
Luxgens 109, Pure Youth 90
Pure Youth proved no match for the Yulon Luxgens in the later game on Friday as they dropped a 109-90 decision to start off the week with a whimper.
The highly anticipated showdown between the league’s two premier centers — Tseng Wen-ding of the Luxgens and Jien Jia-hong of Pure Youth — did not live up to its billing.
Jien managed to score only two points in the entire game, while Tseng racked up his usual 16 points and nine rebounds to maintain his team-leading scoring and rebounding average of 17 points and 8.2 rebounds per game.
The fans that were on hand to witness the matchup between Tseng and Jien were not disappointed, however, because Yulon reserve center Wu Chih-wei stole the show by connecting on all 11 of his shots for a game-high 23 points. The win propelled the Luxgens to a tie for the lead in the standings with the Dacin Tigers at 5-1 for the season.