Taiwan’s dreams of qualifying for next year’s basketball World Cup were dealt a severe blow yesterday when they lost their final group-stage game at the FIBA Asia Championship to Qatar 71-68.
Entering the game with a 4-0 record in Group E, Taiwan needed to beat Qatar (3-1) to finish atop the group and set up a quarter-final matchup against the fourth-placed Group F team, likely Kazakhstan.
Although Taiwan staged an impressive rally when trailing by 12 points with four minutes left, their efforts fell just short of what was needed when center Tseng Wen-ting missed a three-point shot from well behind the arc with just seconds to go.
The loss meant that Taiwan will finish second in the group, provided that the Philippines defeat Hong Kong as expected in yesterday’s later game, setting up a likely quarter-final encounter with China tomorrow.
So far in the championship, China have not shown themselves to be the Asian basketball powerhouse they typically are, suffering group-stage losses to Iran and South Korea, but they still make a much more formidable foe for Taiwan than Kazakhstan would have been.
The loss to Qatar broke Taiwan’s five-game winning streak at the Manila tournament, in which the top three finishers will qualify for the 2014 FIBA World Cup.
They had previously upset the Philippines and Jordan, as well as defeated Saudi Arabia, Hong Kong and Japan, but were unable to clear the final group hurdle.
Although Taiwan came off best in shooting from the floor in a game in which neither team shot well, they were outrebounded 48-32 and had 12 fewer second-chance points than Qatar. Only two Taiwan players — center Quincy Davis and point guard Chen Shih-chieh — posted double-digit scores.