Mon, Jan 14, 2019 - Page 10 News List

Dinos win without star player; Lu becomes SBL top scorer

By Jason Pan  /  Staff reporter

A Taiwan Beer player, right, tries to block Sani Sakakini of the Yulon Luxgen Dinos from scoring in their SBL game on Dec. 15 last year.

Photo: Lin Cheng-kung, Taipei Times

The Yulon Luxgen Dinos’ 80-75 win over Taiwan Beer at Taipei’s Tianmu Stadium yesterday moved them up into first place in the Super Basketball League (SBL), although they had to do it without their star Palestinian player, Sani Sakakini.

Since the season started in mid-November, Sakakini has lit up the boards, a performance responsible for pushing the Dinos to the front of the pack.

Having already been awarded best player of the week twice, Sakanini was honored as the league’s most valuable player by SBL officials for last month.

In the Dinos’ 10 matchups last month, power forward Sakakini scored more than 25 points in six straight games — including netting more than 30 points in three consecutive outings — and put up double-doubles eight times.

Having played in Jordan and Lebanon, as well as five seasons in China’s CBA league, Sakakini is outperforming foreign players from the US and Europe, several of whom have NBA experience, but who pale in comparison to the Palestinian’s scoring touch and work ethic.

Last month, Sakakini topped the league with an average of 25.2 points, 14 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 1 turnover and 0.7 blocks, league statistics showed.

However, in last night’s defeat of Taiwan Beer, Dinos supporters were disappointed to see Sakakini sidelined due to a back injury that he sustained last week, as American Eric Dawson, who played in Puerto Rico and Argentina, stepped up as power forward.

Dawson proved a capable replacement, putting up 33 points and 21 rebounds to lead the Dinos to victory against Taiwan Beer, as veteran Taiwanese front-man Lu Cheng-ju pitched in with 28 points and six rebounds.

It was a memorable game for fans, as Lu’s 28 markers gave an SBL career total of 4,899, putting him ahead of Tien Lei, currently with the ASEAN Basketball League’s Formosa Dreamers, to become all-time scorer in the SBL, which is in its 15th season.

“I have to thank my teammates for passing me the ball and pushing me to hit the shots,” Lu said of his record-breaking night. “Also it was great to do it as our team also won the game. The team’s winning result had to come first, and I also thank the club for cultivating me to become a better player.”

Lu, who has played with the Dinos for 13 seasons, was presented with the game ball at the end of the night.

Lu said he would put it in a display case to commemorate the record-breaking game.

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