Jien Jia-hong scored a season-high 34 pints and Hong Chih-shan chipped in 25 as Pure Youth Construction shook off some late-game jitters to beat the Yulon Luxgens 113-110 in overtime at the Taipei Municipal Gymnasium on Sunday night.
The win not only avoided what would have been an embarrassing loss with the Builders enjoying leads as large as 20 points in the first half, but also propelled them a full game ahead of the fifth-place Kinmen Liquor in the fight for the fourth and final playoff berth in the upcoming postseason.
Pure Youth shot an incredible 73 percent in the first half, which gave them a surprising 66-48 lead against the top-ranked Luxgens at the half. But the lead proved insufficient as the Luxgens switched their point of attack from the perimeter to all-star center Tseng Wen-ding inside the paint, scoring 30 points in the third to pull within four of the Builders heading into the final quarter.
Yulon went ahead 94-90 midway through the fourth on the strength of four threes by Lu Cheng-ru, only to see Tseng fouled out at the 3:12 mark.
With Tseng gone and the middle of the Luxgens defense totally exposed, the builders promptly reverted to Jien’s size advantage inside the paint by punching the ball down below to quickly close the gap.
Yulon had their best chance to seal the win when Wu Chih-wei took an uncontested seven-foot jumper in the final seconds of regulation time.
But the shot was off, breathing new signs of life back into the Builders, who scored the first four points in overtime en route to the upset win.
SUNDAY’S OTHER GAMES:
The favorites won their respective games on Sunday, with the Dacin Tigers trouncing the Taiwan Mobile Leopards 75-55 in Game 1 and Taiwan Beer skidding past Bank of Taiwan 73-67 in Game 2.
Byron Allen led the Tigers with a dozen points and 11 boards in his 10th double-double of the season, while Ho Sho-cheng championed a Brew Crew that outscored the Bankers 26-13 in the decisive third quarter to run away with the win.