Play will resume this evening after a three-week Lunar New Year break with the Yulon Luxgens taking on the Fubon Braves at the Banciao Gymnasium in New Taipei City, followed by a showdown between the Dacin Tigers and Bank of Taiwan.
With only two games separating the fourth-place Luxgens and the fifth-place Braves in the standings and an auspicious start in the Year of the Monkey at stake, both squads will undoubtedly give their best effort to pick up the big win.
It will be a very interesting matchup between the Luxgen import Liam McMorrow and his counterpart, Paul Butorac.
Butorac was picked up by the Braves earlier this week to replace an injured All-Star center in Earl Barron, who is expected to be out for at least one week after suffering a muscle strain during practice last week.
While both players are no strangers to the Super Basketball League, with the former having played a full season with Bank of Taiwan two years ago before joining the Luxgens midway through this season and the latter also having tried out with the Bankers prior to the start of this season, neither club will be able to run their full repertoire of plays due to the relative “newness” of the two players.
The scale will likely tip in favor of the Automakers, with perimeter threat Lu “Male Model” Cheng-ju expected to have big day from the field against the Fubon defense, which is likely to be handicapped by Butorac’s lack of familiarity on defense.
In the second game between the Tigers and the Bankers, all eyes will be on the Tigers’ emerging team icon Chou Yi-hsiang, who won last month’s Player of the Month honor with an excellent stretch of outstanding games prior to the New Year break.
Also eager to join Chou will be Bryan Davis who had to leave the All-Star Game on Jan. 31 at the half to catch a flight back to the US after having played a monstrous first half for Team Red.
The game will be Dacin’s to lose as they hold a decisive 3-0 record in their three previous meetings, even though the most recent one was narrowly won by the Cats on the strength of a strong finish in a game that should have been won by the Bankers.
And with a well-rested Luke Nevill and Chen Hsuan-hsiang looking to redeem themselves from the 92-90 loss to Dacin on Jan. 3, the Bankers could be up for a big upset if both of their scoring guns can knock down the open shots against the aggressive Dacin defense.
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