In the second part of our two-part Super Basketball League (SBL) 2011-2012 season preview, we focus on Bank of Taiwan, Kinmen Liquor, the Taiwan Mobile Leopards and the Yulon Luxgens, all of which are looking to make a run in one of the most competitive fields of play ever in the league’s nine-year history.
The new season has really not been kind to Bank of Taiwan, as they have lost key players to injuries before the first regular-season contest has even been played.
Versatile forward/guard Chen Hsuen-shiang suffered a broken right collarbone in the annual Hualien Probation Basketball Tournament in October that will sideline him for at least three months, while fellow forward Chuang Hsiao-wen is out recovering from acute appendicitis.
However, skipper Lai Liang-chung is optimistic about his team’s outlook as he resorts to big man John Vaudreuil for his solid inside play.
“[Vaudreuil] is the only returning foreign player in the league this year. That means we don’t need to spend any time getting him familiarized with our system, like the other teams have to do,” Lai said at a press conference on Wednesday.
He is also set to have the services of a fully recovered Hsu Chih-chiang, who was out for a good part of last season because of injury, and who simply cannot wait to get back on the court.
As for Kinmen Liquor, newly acquired Antoine Broxsie from the US will play for rookie head coach Hsu Chih-chao’s team that returns no starters from last year’s squad, as they look to rebuild last season’s last-placed Distillers from the ground up. This does not necessarily mean that Kinmen Liquor will not have a good season, because Hsu has been around the league since its inception, both as a player and an assistant coach with the Dacin Tigers, and has known most of the players in the league for a long time.
He also has Liu Cheng, the No. 1 overall pick in this year’s draft, and former Taiwan Beer point guard Chou Tsu-hua on his side. These two players could create problems for any opposing team as the league’s most anticipated inside-outside tandem.
Also new at the helm will be Taiwan Mobile Leopards headman Chia Fan, who left Changhua’s Mingdao University after transforming the team from a Division II-caliber squad into a final-four contender in Division I in less than three years.
Chia will also enjoy the luxury of having former National Basketball Association (NBA) player Marcus Fizer on his team as they attempt to lead the Leopards into the playoffs for the first time in years with Fizer’s tremendous experience and size advantage, even though his age (33) and tendency to sustain injuries could be a concern for Chia further down the line.
Last but not least are the Yulon Luxgens, who will look to fill the shoes of all-star center Tseng Wen-ding — who left for China’s Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) — with US import Kevin Johnson, who is big and fast. Johnson will likely be asked to play at least 30 minutes in every game under the leadership of first-year head coach Chiou Chi-yi.
Chiou will also need to deal with the absence of speedy point guard Lee Hsueh-lin, who opted for a career in the CBA after last season, thereby making Chiou’s job one of the least envied in the league.