Ten three-pointers by Lu Cheng-rue led the way for the Yulon Luxgens as they bombarded the Pure Youth Construction with an outstanding perimeter game to defeat the Builders 88-71 at the Miaoli County Sports Complex yesterday afternoon in the Super Basketball League (SBL) season opener.
What should have been an uphill battle for the four-time champs, given the fact they lost All-Star center Tseng Wen-ding and premier point guard Lee Hsueh-lin to China’s Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) during the offseason, turned into a relatively easy win as they gained control of the game midway through the fourth quarter to pull off the upset victory.
“The shots were there, so I just took them as they came,” Lu said after the game.
He finished 10 for 16 from behind the three-point line to net a game-high 34 points in one of the most explosive offensive outputs in a season opener in recent years.
Also starring for the Luxgens was newcomer Kevin Johnson Jr of the US, who made his inside presence immediately felt with 22 points and 23 rebounds in his Taiwan debut to silence the critics who predicted that it would be a rebuilding year for Yulon.
Three three-pointers by Lu helped give the Luxgens a surprising 20-14 lead in the first quarter, before the Builders fought back with a sound second quarter to close out the first half trailing 33-35.
The game quickly turned in favor of the Luxgens in the second half, despite several promising moments by Pure Youth, as five three-pointers from Lu in the final quarter promptly thwarted any rally attempts by the Builders in what ended up being a big win for the Luxgens.
Their inability to contain Lu proved costly for Pure Youth, who brought in former Luxgen and CBA-tested forward Chen “Airman” Hsin-an and foreign import Terence Dials in the offseason with the hope of making a serious run for the title.
Failure to secure the defensive glass on the part of the Builders led to a 53-42 rebounding margin for the Luxgens and virtually made it impossible for the Builders to win.
“We didn’t do a good job boxing them [the Luxgens] out and it definitely hurt us tonight,” Pure Youth skipper Hsu Jin-tseh said after the game.
His troops will not have much time to regroup as they get set to take on the Dacin Tigers in tonight’s contest.
TIGERS 70, TAIWAN BEER 62
Outplaying their opponent in every facet of the game, the Dacin Tigers humbled the defending champs from Taiwan Beer with an eight-point win in the second game in Miaoli last night to tip off the season with a bang.
The win not only gave the Big Cats an auspicious start to the new season, but also avenged a bitter loss against the same Taiwan Beer club that took the title in five games during last season’s Championship Finals.
A tremendous fourth quarter by Tigers guard Wang Chih-chiun made the difference in the game as the veteran guard converted two deadly three-pointers on top of a strong drive to the hoop in an eight-point effort to seal the win for his team.