Thu, Dec 15, 2011 - Page 20 News List

Teams gear up for the first SBL games of the season

By Paul Huang  /  Contributing Reporter

Bank of Taiwan team members speak at a press conference yesterday announcing the 2011-2012 Super Basketball League season, which starts on Saturday afternoon at the Miaoli County Sports Complex.

Photo: Fang Pin-chao, Taipei Times

The return of Chen “the Airman” Hsin-an after a two-year stint in China’s Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) is sure to make for an exciting 2011-2012 Super Basketball League (SBL) season, which tips off on Saturday afternoon at the Miaoli County Sports Complex with Chen’s Pure Youth Construction taking on the Yulon Luxgens.

Defending SBL champs Taiwan Beer will be looking to continue their winning ways, but their quest for a repeat might fall a few steps short with the departure of inside threat Wu Dai-hao to the CBA, following in the footsteps of fellow forward Lin “the Beast” Chih-chieh.

Wu’s absence is likely to make the Brew Crew’s interior defense more vulnerable to an inside attack and the Taiwan Beer front office has been aggressively seeking foreign help to help shore up this weakness.

However, much to the dismay of Taiwan Beer skipper Yen Jia-hua, the handful of hired guns he has had in for tryouts during the off season have all fallen short of his expectations. He will most likely bring back Emmanuel Jones from last year’s title-winning team despite Jones’ 1.93m frame, which is well short of the league’s new height limit for foreign players of 2.05m — up from the previous 2m limit.

“[Finding good foreign players] is one of those things where it’s hit or miss,” Yen was quoted as saying by local media last week.

Standing in Yen’s way of a repeat are the young and feisty Builders from Pure Youth Construction, whose off season acquisition of the Airman will bring depth and maturity to an already explosive lineup that had trouble gaining control of the game at critical junctions, particularly when holding slim leads or overcoming pressure late in a game.

“[Chen’s] addition to our team should give some of our younger guys a sense of security when we need to keep our composure in key moments of a game,” Pure Youth head coach Hsu Jin-tseh said earlier this month.

Chen will also have help from prized import Terence Dials of Ohio State University, who was the Big Ten Conference Player of the Year in 2006, as well as former Taiwan Beer guard Doug Creighton, who will fill in for Hong Chih-shan, who left for the CBA.

The Dacin Tigers are looking to overcome some hurdles and bring home a title, having landed former NBA player Noel Felix, whose 2.05m inside presence will solidify the Tigers’ interior defense and free up fellow front court mates Tien Lei and Lin Yi-hui to try a more aggressive style of play on the wings.

The addition of Felix might just be what they need to win their second league title in team history after dropping two straight to the eventual champs in the past two seasons.

“[Felix] is so versatile as far as what he can do for us, both in terms of offense and defense,” Tigers head coach Chiou Da-tsong said at the season-opening press conference in Taipei yesterday afternoon.

This is part one of a two-part SBL season preview. See tomorrow’s paper for part two, which will focus on the league’s other four squads.

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