Nearly spoiling a five-point lead late in the game, Taiwan held off a tenacious rally by Lebanon to win their first game in the second round of this year’s FIBA Asia Championship at the Wuhan Sports Complex in Wuhan, China, yesterday afternoon.
It was an historical win in the sense that Taiwan have never beaten Lebanon in international competition, let alone a major event such as the Asia Championship, and the win did not come easy as Taiwan coughed up the ball several times in the final minute of the contest against a full-court press defense by Lebanon, who nearly succeeded in forcing the game into overtime with one final possession in the closing seconds.
However, Taiwan’s defense prevailed once more, with Wu Tai-hao swiping the ball away from Jean Abdel El Nour to keep Lebanon from getting the final shot off, while Chang Tsung-hsien picked up the loose ball and advanced it the other way to seal the victory.
“I know they have dumped off the ball from the baseline to the middle in a situation like that, so I just kept one arm up and the other down to interrupt the pass and it worked out beautifully for us,” Wu said after the game.
He ended up with 12 points and nine rebounds in his best showing of the tournament so far.
Lebanon came out firing by scoring the game’s first five points over the first two-and-a-half minutes, but Taiwan answered the two-time runners-up in the past three Asia Championships, with Chang running the fastbreak to perfection by downing three easy baskets in the transition game to give the underdogs a surprising 16-13 lead after the first quarter.
The three-point lead lasted less than a minute as Lebanon’s Ghaleb Reda and Samuel Hoskin combined for the next two scores to put their team ahead by one.
The seesaw battle that saw neither team able to enjoy a lead larger than four continued until the final two minutes, with Taiwan’s Chen Hsin-an and Chang leading the offense to counter Lebanon’s inside attack which featured Hoskin’s exceptional low-post play. The former NBA standout ended up with a game-high 19 points and 11 rebounds in a double-double performance.
“It’s a great win for us, but [Lebanon] also exposed our weakness in ball-handling against pressure, which we need to improve on right away,” Taiwan skipper Chou Jung-san said after the game.
Chou’s troops will have their hands full in an uphill battle against undefeated South Korea this afternoon, with the tipoff scheduled for 3:30pm.
Japanese couple Rikiya and Ayumi Kataoka had their honeymoon wrecked by the COVID-19 pandemic, but their resourcefulness in enforced exile in Cape Verde has won them appointments as ambassadors for its Olympic team. The Kataokas had completed a third of their round-the-world trip when a suspension in long-haul flights stranded them for five months in the archipelago of 10 tiny islands off the coast of West Africa. Unable to resume their journey to Europe and then home to Japan, and unwilling to head to the African mainland, where virus cases are spiking, they had to trade their skills with domestic businesses to
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