Pure Youth Construction pulled off a stunning late-game run to erase a three-point deficit in the fourth quarter, topping the Taiwan Mobile Leopards 83-77 at the New Taipei City Sports Complex in Sinjhuang yesterday afternoon to start the new Super Basketball League (SBL) season with a bang.
James Mao scored a game-high 24 points, including a dozen in the decisive fourth, to lead a young Pure Youth attack that had six different players registering double-digit scores to edge past Taiwan Mobile.
“I knew I had to improve myself or spend a lot time on the bench, so I worked extra hard to shed a few pounds during the offseason,” Pure Youth’s Chien Jia-hong said after the game.
He dropped almost 10kg with a rigorous weight control regimen during the offseason to boost his game, which was evident in the contest.
Pure Youth began with a speedy 22-16 run in the first quarter and added to their lead to close out the first half with a decent 39-31 advantage.
However, the momentum shifted in favor of the Leopards as guards Wu Yong-ren and Su Hsiang-yi combined to register 15 points in a 29-18 third-quarter run to erase the halftime deficit and give their team a 60-57 advantage heading into the final quarter.
Mao made sure the victory would belong to Pure Youth as he converted 10 of 11 from the free-throw line with the game on the line to help his team halt a valiant comeback by the Leopards and snatch the victory.
Newly arrived US import Rashad Jones-Jennings did not have a good showing offensively as he was held scoreless in more than 24 minutes of play.
However, the 26-year-old from Chatanooga, Tennessee, did manage to grab 11 rebounds that helped his team earn a slight 34-33 edge in the rebounding department.
As for the Leopards, newcomer Marcus Dove wowed the crowd with a couple of thunderous slams on a 24-point effort, but failed to sufficiently rally his team late in the game as they fell short by a half-dozen to start the season with a disappointing defeat.
LUXGENS 69, TIGERS 60
The Yulon Luxgens outfought the Dacin Tigers in yesterday evening’s showdown to light up the new season with an impressive win.
The rematch of last season’s championship finalists was anything but close as the defending champs held the Tigers scoreless for almost five minutes to open with a surprising 12-0 lead.
Even though the Tigers chipped away at a deficit that grew as large as 15 points to reduce it to as little as five points in the fourth, it was too little too late for them as they fell short by nine to lose their season-opener.
Tseng Wen-ding led all scorers with 19 on the night to go with his 13 rebounds and seven blocked-shots.
The premier Yulon center showed betrayed no signs of rustiness after sitting out the preseason because of contractual disputes.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY STAFF WRITER