Chen Tzu-wei’s buzzer-beating three-pointer with the game clock expiring broke a 76-all tie as the Dacin Tigers edged past the Taiwan Mobile Cloud Leopards 79-76 in an overtime thriller to win Game 7 of their semi-final series at the Taipei Physical Education College Gymnasium in Tianmu last night.
The soft-spoken center out of National Taiwan Normal University, who also serves as an assistant coach for his alma mater, rose to the occasion by draining the game-winner to send his team into the championship finals for the second straight season in a rematch against the defending champs, Pure Youth Construction.
“I never thought I would hit the game-winner; Tien Lei was supposed to be the one to take the last shot,” a very emotional Chen said after the game.
He received a nice feed from Luo Yu-chuin off the baseline and hit nothing but the bottom of the net with 0.7 seconds remaining in overtime to give his club the lead for good.
The three not only extended the Tigers’ season for at least four more games, but also prevented what would have been the biggest post-season comeback victory in league history, at their expense, as the Tigers squandered a 27-point advantage in the first half with a poorly-executed second half to allow the Leopards back in the game.
“I never stopped believing in our players, because we’ve come so far in the ten years I’ve been around the league, and I am so proud of them,” a teary-eyed Dacin skipper Hsu Chih-chao said after the game.
His made it into the championship finals previously as a Dacin player, and now he will lead the Tigers into the finals as head coach.
The Leopards had a chance to win the game in regulation time, with Cheng Ren-wei forcing an awkward shot in the closing seconds, but could not convert with two Tiger players defending against him.