The Taiwan Mobile Cloud Leopards started the 11th Super Basketball League (SBL) season in grand fashion with a 75-67 win over the Yulon Luxgens at the National Taiwan University of Science and Technology Gymnasium in Greater Taichung last night.
Luke Nevill and Wu Dai-hao starred in skipper Cheng Chih-lung’s twin-tower offense with 16 and 12 points respectively to lead the eager Leopards past the four-time league champions.
It was the second straight year that the Leopards have aggressively acquired big-name players during the offseason in an effort to boost their lineup, with last season’s “roster improvement” carrying them into the postseason and the arrival of Nevill of the Australian national team warranting even higher expectations for this season.
Eight opening-quarter points by Nevill set the tone for the Leopards as they took a 24-19 lead after 10 minutes of play, before the auto makers returned the favor with an 18-13 run in the second to end the first half in a 37-all draw.
The Luxgens made the necessary adjustments to shut down Nevill in the third that held the Australian to a lone point in the quarter. However, the move proved unproductive as it opened up the middle for Wu Dai-hao, who poured in six in the third to help the Leopards take a double-digit lead at the start of the fourth.
That was the difference in the game as the Leopards held off the Luxgens with an evenly fought fourth to maintain the lead for good.
Four different players scored in double-digits for the Leopards, with Nevill’s team-high 16 leading the way, while the Luxgens placed three in double-digit scoring with newcomer Solomon Alabi’s 17 topping all scorers.
TIGERS 72, PURE YOUTH 71
Pure Youth Construction’s road to threepeat began with a tough loss on their home court last night as they fell victim to a fourth-quarter rally by the Dacin Tigers to drop a 72-71 decision at the National Taiwan University of Science and Technology Gymnasium.
With Taichung City Mayor Jason Hu in attendance to celebrate the start of the season, the home builders opened the contest with a 6-0 run in the opening minutes and led the game for more than 38 minutes before an all-out rally by the Tigers turned the tide against the defending champs.
Reggie Okosa’s put-back basket off an offensive rebound with 0.5 seconds on the clock was the difference in the game as the Tigers rallied from one down after trailing for most of the game and squandering a four-point lead in the final minute to edge past Pure Youth.
This story has been corrected since it was first published.