The Super Basketball League (SBL) Finals get under way today in Kaohsiung, with upstarts the Fubon Braves taking on perennial powerhouse Pauian Archiland in a best-of-seven series.
Both Game 1 and Game 2 are at the Kaohsiung Arena this weekend, before the series moves to New Taipei City’s Sinjhuang Gymnasium on Wednesday, with all the games starting at 7pm.
Fubon Braves supporters believe the team have unstoppable momentum after their surprise 4-0 series victory over regular-season first-place finishers the Yulon Luxgen Dinos in the semi-finals.
They face an experienced Pauian Archiland lineup who had won four consecutive SBL titles from 2011-2012 to 2014-2015 when known as Pure Youth Construction under the guidance of head coach Hsu Chin-che and his American assistant Ben Metcalf.
Hsu took over as head coach of the Braves last season after quitting Archiland in 2015 to take charge of the Shanxi Brave Dragons in the Chinese Basketball Association.
Meanwhile, Metcalf took over as Archiland head coach after Hsu’s departure and led the club to the SBL Finals in 2015-2016.
Archiland were beaten 4-2 by Taiwan Beer.
This year’s SBA Finals are seen as a fascinating battle between Hsu and Metcalf, with old master Hsu being challenged by his former understudy.
“It seems like everyone is focused on the two head coaches for this series,” Metcalf said. “I want to stay away from that discussion and hope the fans can concentrate on the performance of the players on the court. Both teams are familiar with each other, so it will be a great series.”
Fans are also looking forward to the key match-up in the series between the two US-born centers, Quincy Davis of Archiland and Garret Siler of the Braves.
Davis is likely to be joined in an attacking lineup by Shih Chin-hao, Lee Chi-wei and Chen Chien-en, who are likely to be going up against Siler, Tsai Wen-cheng, Chang Tsung-hsien and Hung Chih-shang.
There is also the contrasting playing styles of two Taiwanese-Americans, Douglas Creighton of Archiland and the Braves’ Joseph Lin, the younger brother of NBA star Jeremy Lin of the New Jersey Nets.
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