Ke Chi-hao (Pure Youth Construction) shot a perfect five-for-five from behind the three-point line and Chang Tsong-hsien added a team-high 19 points as Taiwan overcame a sluggish start to defeat Mongolia 94-86 to win the battle for the fifth place at the East Asia Basketball Association Championship in Incheon, South Korea, yesterday afternoon.
The victory not only salvaged a respectable finish for Taiwan, who fell to a disheartening loss to Japan on Saturday to miss a chance to advance to the medal round, but also netted them the fifth and final qualifying spot for the Asian Championship in Manila, Philippines, in August.
“We knew we had to beat [Mongolia] in order to accomplish what we came out here to do, anything less would have been unacceptable,” Taiwan team captain Tseng Wen-ting said after the game.
Even though he did not get a chance to score, Tseng’s 11 rebounds and irreplaceable presence inside the paint was the main reason Taiwan were able to fend off a tenacious rally by Mongolia in a 30-point fourth quarter to keep the win intact.
After a slow start that saw Taiwan trail by as many as seven points in the opening quarter, it was Chang who finally found his shooting boots to help reduce the deficit to one by the end of the first quarter.
That was when Ke decided to take matters into his own hands as he converted from behind the three-point arc on three straight attempts in what ended up being a 12-point second quarter to help his team claim a comfortable 49-38 lead at halftime.
Taiwan added seven to their lead with a strong finish in the third quarter to build a wide enough cushion to withstand a late Mongolia rally that would have been one of the biggest comeback victories in tournament history.
Five different players scored in double digits for Taiwan, led by Chang’s 19. Tsai Wen-cheng (Pure Youth Construction) also chipped in 18 for his team as skipper Hsu Jin-tseh got the necessary point production from his Builders crew to pick up the win.
Yesterday’s other games saw South Korea trounce Hong Kong 105-62 and China defeat Japan 83-68. South Korea play China in the title game at 4pm today after Japan and Hong Kong fight it out for bronze at 2pm.