Taipei, Feb. 24 (CNA) Taiwan's national men's basketball team was routed by nearly 40 points by the visiting Japanese in Taipei on Monday in their first matchup in the qualifying round of the 2021 FIBA Asia Cup.
After crushing the Malaysians by more than 100 points on Friday, Taiwan fell to Japan 96-57 at Taipei Heping Basketball Gymnasium, which was again closed to fans to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
Power forward Ryan Francis Rossiter led Japan with 17 points and 19 rebounds, while Taiwan captain Chen Ying-chun (陳盈駿) led the hosts with 13 points.
The loss gives Taiwan a 1-1 record in Group B, which also includes Malaysia, Japan, and China.
A total of 24 teams are competing in six groups, with the top two teams in each group qualifying for the 2021 FIBA Asia Cup. Each team will play the other teams in their respective groups on a home and away basis between now and February 2021.
Teams finishing third in each group will also have a chance to play a qualifying tournament to qualify for the Asia Cup.
The Taiwanese were only down by nine at halftime, helped by a 12-2 run late in the second quarter.
After Taiwan pulled within seven early in the third quarter, its offense stalled, allowing Japan to go on a 22-0 run that put the game out of reach.
The hosts were especially cold from behind the three-point arc throughout the game, going only 4 for 21 after hitting nearly 50 percent of their 49 attempts against Malaysia on Friday.
Julio Lamas, an Argentine professional basketball coach who now leads Japan's national team said his team's defense was outstanding.
"We were able to get out on fast breaks because we had confidence in our defense today," he said.
Rossiter said the Japanese played high pressure defense, blocking passing lanes and grabbing rebounds to stop the other team and get into their transition game quickly.
"We have a lot of mobile guys who can run and shoot in transition, so that was our mentality. In the third quarter, I felt we did really well on defense and turned that into fast break points," he said.
Charles Henry Parker, who has been Taiwan's head coach for about four years, said his team should have adjusted better to the pressure being applied by the Japanese.
"But for the most part, they just outplayed us. They played harder, more aggressively. They took away everything we wanted to do," he said.
Taiwan's next game in the qualifying round is scheduled for China on November 26.