Tien Lei’s thunderous slam directly off an inbound pass from Lin Chih-jeh broke a 73-73 tie for Taiwan with 1.4 seconds remaining in the game as they went on to defeat Qatar 75-73 at the Ota Gymnasium in Tokyo, Japan, yesterday afternoon to finish the preliminary round of the fourth FIBA Asia Cup Basketball Tournament with a 2-2 record.
It was the best play of the tournament for Taiwan so far, helping them vent some frustration over their tough loss to Iran the night before in which they squandered a double-digit lead in the second half to extend their losing streak against the Middle Eastern team to an embarrassing seven straight.
“We’d worked too hard to have to play another five minutes, so it was good that we were able to end it in regulation time,” Tien said after the game.
He left nothing to chance, stuffing the basket with authority.
“All the credit should go to Chih-jeh for the perfect inbound pass,” Tien added.
The win not only earned a spot in the quarter-finals for Taiwan, but it also secured a third-place finish in Group B, which avoided an undesirable meeting with top seeds Lebanon of Group A, who beat out the Philippines and China in the tiebreakers with all three teams finishing with an identical 3-1 record.
Five straight points by Tien in the opening minutes gave Taiwan a surprisingly quick lead over Qatar, but the advantage proved short-lived as Qatar answered with a 12-0 run that left Taiwan’s players scratching their heads.
Fortunately for Taiwan, center Tseng Wen-ding and guard Chen Shih-jeh picked up the slack to keep the deficit to fewer than six the rest of the first half, before Taiwan turned the table and actually led the game by three heading into the fourth quarter.
The teams then traded leads of fewer than three points until the closing minutes and Tien’s decisive slam.
Next up for Taiwan is the Philippines tomorrow afternoon.
Yesterday’s other scores:
‧ Lebanon 84, Uzbekistan 49
‧ Iran 71, Japan 65
‧ China 106, Macau 46