Failure to convert a free throw off a three-point play by Hung Chih-shan with 30 seconds remaining cost Taiwan the opportunity to tie the game as they fell short to Japan 71-70 in the third game of the 2013 East Asia Basketball Association Championship in Incheon, South Korea, yesterday afternoon.
The loss not only knocked Taiwan out of the medal round, but also denied them an automatic berth in the Asian Championship in Manila in August. Taiwan must now win their game against Mongolia tomorrow to secure the fifth and final spot in the Asian Championship.
Tseng Wen-ding managed to get an offensive rebound off Hung’s miss, but he too could not make the shot, giving Japan the ball with a slim lead that they did not relinquish.
“We had our chances to win, but we just didn’t execute as well as we would’ve liked to. That’s what cost us the game,” Taiwan skipper Hsu Jin-tseh said.
With the automatic berth in the Asian Championship on the line, the score was close from the get go as the two squads played to a 17-all tie through the first 10 minutes. Taiwan then edged ahead with a slightly superior second quarter to lead 35-32 at the half.
However, a 22-15 run in favor of Japan in the third quarter turned the lead into a deficit for Taiwan. Even though Taiwan eventually erased the deficit and led briefly in the fourth quarter, a deadly three-pointer by Japan’s Yuya Nagayoshi with two minutes left gave his team a 67-66 lead.
Japan added a breakaway basket off a Taiwan turnover to lead 69-66 and set up Hung’s potential game-tying three-point play that fell short.
Led by point guard Chang Tsong-hsien’s game-high 21 points, four players scored in double digits for Taiwan, compared with Japan’s three double-digit scorers. However, Japan’s 35-26 rebounding edge proved too much for Taiwan to overcome.
All teams will enjoy a well-deserved rest today, before Taiwan takes on Mongolia in the battle for fifth with tip-off scheduled for 2pm.
In the medal round, South Korea and Japan will represent Group A, while China and Hong Kong will represent Group B in the semi-finals.