Thu, Jul 21, 2016 - Page 16 News List

Top opposition awaits Taiwan at Jones Cup

By Jason Pan  /  Staff reporter

Taiwan players and coaches said they are looking forward to battling fierce East Asian rivals Japan, South Korea and the Philippines when the 38th William Jones Cup basketball tournament gets under way on Saturday at the Sinjhuang Sports Complex in New Taipei City.

With the theme “Back to Honor” for this year’s tournament, nine teams, including the US — represented by California State University, Sacramento — Iran, Egypt and India, as well as the four East Asian entries, are to play in the week-long competition with the last game on July 31.

The Philippines are represented by Mighty Sports, a perennial powerhouse in the Pilipinas Commercial Basketball League, who have three championships in the Republica Cup in 2013, 2014 and this year.

As hosts, Taiwan have two entries.

Team A — made up of the international squad — are led by head coach Yen Chia-hua, while Team B are under the control of head coach Charlie Henry Parker, who was formerly with the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks and New Orleans Hornets as an assistant coach.

Yen said it has not been easy to get all the players together for training sessions and to devise game strategy, because a few top stars, such as veteran Tseng Wen-ting and forward Lu Cheng-ju, were recuperating from injuries, while the national squad is in a transition phase.

Yen said he is trying to rebuild, bringing through up-and-coming youngsters.

“Although we only had a short time to prepare for this competition, the players have trained diligently every day,” Yen said at a news conference yesterday.

“I see our team are peaking at the right time and I have confidence in the new crop of young players to lead us to winning ways,” he said.

Team A small forward Liu Cheng said the top team was prepared.

“We have eagerly prepared for the games against Japan and South Korea, to see how we match up against them. They play with a similar style and pace as us, but we certainly would like to win in front of our home crowd,” Liu said.

“There is also the tough Philippines team. They have big, strong men. It is always a competitive, highly charged match against them,” he said.

Team B are composed of younger players who are eligible for next year’s Universiade in Taipei.

Basketball officials said Team B are playing to gain valuable experience against high-level foreign squads.

“I am building this team around defense,” Parker said. “We can win games when we play great defense, but I also train them to play with the exciting style of the Golden State Warriors, with quick transitions from defense to offense.”

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