TAIPEI (CNA) — The Taiwan men’s basketball team was defeated by the Philippines in a closeout game on July 21 that virtually gave the latter the title at the Jones Cup in New Taipei.
In packed stadium, with thousands of Taiwanese and Filipino fans cheering for their teams, the Mighty Sports-Go For Gold won 97-74 against the Taiwan Blue in one of the most highly anticipated games of the tournament.
With that win, the seventh in the tournament for the Mighty Sports, they effectively secured the championship title for the second time in four years, although they have one more game to play on Sunday.
The results of that game against another Taiwan team, the Taiwan White, will not affect the title points for the undefeated Mighty Sports.
In the Hsing Chuang Gymnasium on Saturday, both teams played a tight defense, keeping the scoreboard seesawing back and forth, but Mighty Sports star Renaldo Balkman worked hard to give his team an early 8-point lead.
With the Philippines defense proving too tight to penetrate, the Taiwan team stepped back to land buckets from outside the 3-point line.
Meanwhile, the Mighty Sports continued to break through Taiwan Blue defenses with fast breaks and open gaps down the lane to stretch their lead to 10 points. By the end of the first quarter, with the Philippines guard Norman Aaron Black scoring a three-pointer, the Mighty Sports were ahead 24-14.
Going in to the second quarter, the Taiwan team made an all-out effort to close the gap on the scoreboard, with Chen Ying-Chun (陳盈駿) scoring 7 points early on, but it was a tough task as the Taiwanese offense kept failing to find an open player.
When the buzzer went at the end of the first half, Taiwan was trailing 32-50, with Balkman, an NBA player, racking up 12 points and Chen 11.
The third quarter started with Taiwan center John Florveus grabbing 5 rebounds and 6 points as he tried to quell Balkman. Mighty Sports also suffered a setback when its shooting guard McKenzie Zachery Moore was ejected from the game after a second technical foul three minutes before the buzzer, and Balkman suffered a nose injury in the last 50 seconds.
Nonetheless, Mighty Sports ended the third quarter with a comfortable 72-49 lead.
In the last quarter, Mighty Sports center Hamady Barro Ndiaye took center stage, grabbing 3 rebounds and 2 points, while Michael Kurtiz Williams scored 8 points.
Taiwan’s Lee Chi-wei (李啟瑋) led the scoreboard in that quarter with 10 points but in the end it was not enough and the team lost 74-97 to the Mighty Sports.
Overall, Chen led the Taiwan team with 19 points, while Balkman finished as the top scorer with 21 points.
“It was a good win for us because it was a tough game,” Mighty Sports head coach Charles Tiu told CNA afterwards. “We are very happy to win this championship.
To all our Filipino fans, thank you for the support, it means a lot to us. And if we have any Taiwanese fans, I hope we have gained your respect because we play basketball the right way, and we really thank everybody who came out to watch us.”
At a press conference after the game, Taiwan Blue head coach Charlie Parker said the Taiwanese team struggled with too many turnovers, while the Philippine team was able to capitalize on that.
“The statistics show that we had too many turnovers — 21 to their 10,” Parker said, adding that the Taiwan Blue only had six steals, while the Mighty Sports had 14.
Despite the loss, he said, the Taiwan team should not be discouraged but rather should prepare for their next game on Sunday.
Taiwan Blue were scheduled to face South Korea Sunday, while the Mighty Sports were due to take Taiwan White. For the Jones Cup, Taiwan usually fields two teams.
The Mighty Sports, meanwhile, have already secured the points to win the title this year, and Sunday’s game against Taiwan White will not alter their placement in the tournament.
The other teams in the men’s division of the 2019 Jones Cup are Iran, Jordan, South Korea, Japan, Indonesia, and Canada.
The men’s division of 41st William Jones Cup 2019 is being held July 12-21, while the women’s competition will run from July 24-28 in New Taipei.
By William Yen