Post-season action in the Super Basketball League (SBL) will commence this afternoon with the fourth-seeded Yulon Luxgens taking on fifth-seeded Bank of Taiwan and the third-seeded Taiwan Beer squaring off against sixth-seeded Kinmen Kaoliang at the University of Taipei Gymnasium in Tianmu.
With the new six-team playoff format replacing its four-team predecessor, this year’s post-season promises to be an exciting one as the fifth and sixth-seeds look to cash in on the unprecedented opportunity to “mix things up” in their quest for the coveted title trophy.
“There is no doubt that we are excited about [being in the playoffs] under the new format; this will definitely give the lower seeds a chance to show what they are made of,” Kinmen Kaoliang rookie skipper Wu Chun-hsiung said at the post-season press conference in Taipei earlier this week.
His troops needed back-to-back wins on top of a Dacin Tiger loss on the final weekend of regular-season play to qualify for the final playoff berth.
Even though the Distillers will begin the best-of-five series with a loss before they even take the floor under the new playoff format, which gives the higher seeds a one-game lead in the first round of play, they will have the services of last week’s Player of the Week winner, Bryan Davis, to help them try to pull off an upset against the Brew Crew in the battle between the two alcohol makers.
It will be an uphill battle for Taiwan Beer big man Patrick O’Bryant, who will likely need some help inside the paint to defend against a red-hot Davis, who has averaged more than 30 points and 14 rebounds in his past six games and can singlehandedly take over a game at any given moment. It will also be O’Bryant’s first game in three weeks, because he did not make it back in time for Taiwan Beer’s final two contests in the last week of the regular season.
“[O’Bryant’s not having played in Taiwan Beer’s last two games] won’t be a problem for us because [O’Bryant] has been with us for two full seasons, and he is a true professional, so we are looking very good,” Taiwan Beer assistant coach Liu Hua-lin said of his hired gun at the press conference.
Other than the imported players, Liu Cheng and Chen Ching-huan, of the Brew Crew and Kinmen Kaoliang respectively, must have a solid game to provide the additional firepower on offense, which could be the difference in the game.
In the showdown between the Automakers and the Bankers, the quicker Herve Lamizana might suffer a slight disadvantage against a bigger, but smarter James Tyler inside the paint. Tyler will not likely be fooled by Lamizana’s first step and consequently fall into foul trouble, while the rest of the Yulon lineup match up better in every other position, especially at point guard, with veteran Chen Chih-chung likely to have a big day directing traffic against an inexperienced Bankers’ backcourt.
The Bankers also will not have their team leader Chen Hsuan-hsiang available for the game, as he suffered a season-ending sprained left ankle in the Bankers’ second-to-final game of the regular season.
Regular-season champs Pure Youth Construction and second-place finishers Fubon Braves are to enjoy a bye week in the first round as they await the winners of the two series and take some much-needed rest and a chance to thoroughly prepare for their next opponents.
Most of the commentators and experts at the press conference still picked the Builders to win it all again this year, as the three-time defending champs are simply superior at every position and in every facet of the game.
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