The much anticipated 35th William Jones Cup International Basketball Tournament begins at the Xinzhuang Gymnasium in New Taipei City on July 6 with the hosts looking to make a serious run for a top-three finish against some tough international opponents.
The annual mid-summer basketball classic that began in Taipei 34 years ago to promote the sport will feature two local teams, the Taiwan national team and Team Kuang-hua, which is made up of mostly college and second-tier Super Basketball League (SBL) players, as well as Egypt, Iran, Japan, Jordan, Lebanon, South Korea and the US in a nine-day competition to be played in a round-robin format.
Due to the conflict between Taiwan and the Philippines sparked by the shooting of a Taiwanese fisherman, the defending champions from Manila were not invited to this year’s competition.
No medal rounds are scheduled in this year’s competition as the final standings will be based strictly on the results of the round-robin games with a set of tiebreaking rules in place in case teams finish with identical records.
Looking to improve upon their second straight fourth-placed finish in the tournament las year, the Taiwan national team will be led by Pure Youth Construction skipper Hsu Jin-tseh, who led the Builders to back-to-back titles in the SBL for the first time last season.
Hsu will have a very different lineup to work with in preparation for the upcoming Asian Championship in the Philippines in August compared with past seasons, with recently naturalized center Quincy Davis (formerly of the US) leading a crew that includes center Tseng Wen-ding, scoring threat and captain Lin “the Beast” Chih-jeh, as well as Chang Tsong-hsien and Lee Hsueh-lin — the projected starting five.
Other than the US, the remaining six visiting countries are sending their national team to this year’s tournament as they look to “test the water” against the other Asian teams in preparation for the Asian Championship.
“We’ve practiced very hard for [the William Jones Cup] and we will take the opportunity to tune our team for the upcoming Asian Championship,” Hsu said at a pre-tournament press conference in New Taipei City yesterday afternoon.