Spoiling first-half leads as large as nine points, Taiwan completely fell apart in a dismal second half to drop their quarter-final contest against the Philippines 95-78 at this year’s FIBA Asia Championship in Wuhan, China, last night.
The loss not only denied Taiwan a chance to compete for the gold, but it also earned them a very tough meeting against two-time defending champions Iran, who were upset by Jordan in their quarter-final match earlier yesterday — virtually bumping Taiwan out of contention for a fifth-place finish.
A successful defensive scheme against Philippines center Marcus Douthit, coupled with a smooth start by the offense, gave Taiwan a surprising 23-14 lead late in the opening frame.
However, the hard-earned lead would dwindle to only four by the end of the first (23-19), with the Philippines netting five unanswered points in the final two minutes of the quarter.
Taiwan were able to fend off the Philippines after their lead fell to a single point two minutes into the second quarter with a 12-5 run on the inside play of Tseng Wen-ding and the three-point shooting of Lin Chih-chieh to reclaim a 39-31 lead with four minutes remaining in the half.
However, that was as long as they could hang with the Philippines, with the Philippines offense getting into their groove from that point on, rolling off a 14-3 run to close out the half with a 45-42 advantage.
Trouble continued for Taiwan in the second half with Douthit showing off his inside moves to help his team build a commanding 15-point lead.
To make matters worse for Taiwan, they would lose point guard Lin Hsueh-lin to injury midway through the third quarter and eventually Tseng to five personal fouls in the fourth, sealing their fate long before the final buzzer sounded.
Tseng left the game with a team-high 20 points and five rebounds, while teammates Chen Hsin-an and Lu Cheng-ju chipped in 14 and 12 points respectively.
As for the Philippines, Douthit’s game-high 37 points was the difference in the game as the former US standout (naturalized to Philippine citizenship earlier this year) dominated inside the paint by converting 13 of 24 from close range (eight of 10 from the free-throw line) with 10 rebounds to send his team into the semi-finals.
Next up for Taiwan in the consolation round will be a tough Iranian squad who will look to alleviate their frustration with a win.
Tipoff is scheduled for 1:30pm at the Wuhan Sports Complex.
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