Rallying from a deficit early in the fourth quarter, the Fubon Braves yesterday outscored the Yulon Luxgens 16-4 in the final five minutes of play to escape with a 78-67 win in their post-season opener at the Kaohsiung Fengshan Gymnasium to even the best-of-five series at one win each.
Heading into the contest automatically down by a game, the fifth-seeded Braves got the big win they were looking for against a shorthanded Yulon squad, thanks to an outstanding second half from top scorer Earl Barron.
“I had to adjust my game to figure out how to get to the free-throw line,” Barron said after the game, referring to the adjustment he made during the second half against a Yulon defense who held him to just four points in the first half. He ended up with a game-high 24 points and as many rebounds to pace his team to victory.
Photo: Huang Chih-yuan, Taipei Times
What should have been a very winnable series for the fourth-seeded Automakers turned into an even battle with the unexpected season-ending knee injury of big man Liam McMorrow, who tore a ligament in his left knee during practice earlier in the week.
The Luxgens played well without McMorrow early on, with reserve center Lee Teh-wei taking his place in the first half and keeping “the Barron” at bay to give the Automakers a 33-29 lead at halftime.
However, the Braves punched the ball inside the paint with Barron doing damage from close range to close to within one point in the third while drawing three fouls from Lee at the same time.
Lee eventually fouled out with more than four minutes to play, which proved costly for the Luxgens, as his departure left the Yulon interior defense vulnerable to Barron’s superior size, determining the outcome of the contest long before the final buzzer sounded.
TIGERS 83, BANK OF TAIWAN 72
The third-seeded Dacin Tigers easily topped sixth-seeded Bank of Taiwan in the opener between the two clubs with a triumph in the second game in Kaohsiung to take a commanding 2-0 lead in the best-of-five set.
Six threes by Lin Guan-lun spearheaded a Dacin perimeter attack who led from the opening frame and never looked back as the Cats converted more than 40 percent of their shots from the field to frustrate the Bankers the entire way.
“The shots were there, so I took them as they came,” Lin said after the game.
His three straight threes in the fourth dampened what nearly amounted to a late-game rally by the Bankers, who came back from a 14-point deficit to as close as seven in the quarter before faltering in the end.
Also starring for the Cats were Chou Yi-hsiang and Bryan Davis, whose combined 35 points and 28 boards were more than the Bankers’ defense could handle.
Dacin could clinch the series with a win tonight.
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