Behind a stellar effort by premier forward Tien Lei, Taiwan Team A defeated Japan in a 77-74 final in Jones Cup play at the Taipei County Sinjhuang Gymnasium on Saturday night to jumpstart the nine-day tournament with a bang.
The team icon for the Dacin Tigers, who had been hampered by injuries on and off for the past two seasons, played to his three-time SBL MVP form by netting a game-high 21 points with eight boards to lead the home hosts past their Japanese nemeses to avenge a tough loss at the East Asia Basketball Championship in Aichi, Japan, last month.
Also starring for the Taiwanese was forward Yang Jing-min (Taiwan Beer), whose 17 points on the night, including the final six points of the game for his team, helped turn back an all-out rally by Japan that cut a 19-point lead by the Taiwanese to just one in the closing minutes of the contest.
TAIWAN TEAM B 61, LEBANON 93
Team B for Taiwan was no match for the Lebanese earlier on Saturday as they dropped a 93-61 decision to the visitors.
The Taiwanese squad was never comfortable against Lebanon, which held a near-8cm average team height advantage as they shot a poor 22-for-74 from the field, including a miserable 4-for-30 from behind the three-point line.