Taiwan proved no match for top-ranked South Korea in the semi-finals of this year’s William Jones Cup, falling short of their rivals from the north in a thrilling 90-85 overtime loss at the Sinjhuang Sports Complex in New Taipei City last night to drop out of title contention.
It was the second straight loss that the hosts suffered in as many days following Friday night’s embarrassing 110-68 defeat against a South Korea squad that outplayed Taiwan in every facet of the game.
However, the hosts did not make it easy on the visitors one bit as they led by as many as 10 points in the third quarter, but an all-out rally by South Korea in the fourth quarter forced the game into extra session before South Korea prevailed in the end.
Unlike Friday night’s contest when the services of top starters Chen Hsin-an, Lin “the Beast” Chih-chieh and Tseng Wen-ding were missing because of strategic considerations by the coaching staff, last night’s match saw all but Tseng in the lineup.
And the difference was tremendous as Taiwan shook off some first-half blues with a strong third, highlighted by team captain Chen’s 10-point spurt to push Taiwan’s lead to as many as 10 (47-37).
However, with the game on the line, South Korea resorted to offensive threat T.J. Moon, whose 18 points in the second half quickly erased the Taiwan lead, before Moon took over the game in overtime with 10 of his team’s 19 points to seal the win.
After Moon’s three-pointer gave South Korean a 71-69 lead with 41.2 seconds remaining in regulation, it was Chen who quickly answered with a strong drive to the basket for two to tie the game at 71-all.
South Korea missed two critical free throws with 21.6 seconds remaining in regulation time to give Taiwan what seemed to be the final possession of the ball for the potential game-winning play.
However, a questionable jump-ball call by the referee that awarded South Korea possession of the ball denied the home team the chance at the final shot.
Next up for Taiwan are the Philippines, loser to Iran in the other semi-final match, in the fight for the third-place finish with tip-off scheduled for 5pm this afternoon.