Holding the Taiwan Mobile Cloud Leopards to 18 points in a dominant first half, Pure Youth Construction overwhelmed their opponents with a tenacious defense to run away with a 68-52 victory in the all-important Game 1 of the Championship Finals at the Kaohsiung Arena last night to claim the advantage in the best-of-seven series between the two SBL teams.
Tsai Wen-cheng racked up 15 points and 10 rebounds in a double-double effort to lead the two-time defending champions past their foes in one of the most lopsided wins in playoff history.
MOST VALUABLE PLAYER
The regular season and Championship Finals Most Valuable Player from last season was at his best again with several clutch shots and offensive rebounds for the Builders to win the opener, after which nine of the previous 10 winners of the first game had gone on to win the title.
“It was a big win for us, considering how tough the Leopards had been in getting themselves into the finals for the first time ever,” Tsai said after the game, referring to the Leopards’ bumpy road to the finals which included a last-second win in Game 7 of the semi-finals against Taiwan Beer.
Also starring for the Builders was Chen Tzu-wei, whose pair of three-pointers in the decisive second quarter sparked a crucial 9-0 run that blew a one-point lead after a quarter of play wide open. Chen would end up with three three-pointers on an 11-point night to be the only other double-digit scorer for the victors.
SLOWING THE PACE
A deliberate attempt to slow down the pace of the game on the part of the Leopards fueled a low-scoring first quarter that saw the Builders take a 13-12 lead after 10 minutes, but a failure to make good on their limited number of offensive possessions against a tough Builders defense which forced six turnovers in the second quarter alone ultimately dug a hole too deep for the Leopards to come back from.
They were held to two points for over nine minutes in the fatal second quarter, before back-to-back baskets by Chang Rong-hsuan gave them six points to make it look more respectable.
Trailing by as many as 18 midway through the third, the Leopards managed to roll off an 8-2 run with six straight points from top scorer Luke Nevill to pull within a dozen.
That was as close as they got as the Builders quickly extended their lead back to 15 or more the rest of the way.