Dreamers push past Braves in P. LEAGUE+ opener
Taipei, Dec. 4 (CNA) The new season of Taiwan's P. LEAGUE+ professional basketball league tipped off Saturday, with the visiting Formosa Taishin Dreamers outhustling the hosts and defending champions Taipei Fubon Braves in a thrilling 111-108 turn-around win.
The game at Taipei Heping Basketball Gymnasium was the official opener of the six-team league's second season.
The 6,788 fans in attendance -- around 97 percent of capacity -- were treated to a game of grit, hustle, and toughness as the Dreamers put on a clinical display in front of what was largely a home crowd for the Braves.
The Braves held a comfortable lead for the majority of the first half, as they tore through the Taichung-based Dreamers' defense to establish a comfortable 60-43 lead at halftime.
However, the Dreamers rallied and used a full-court press to narrow the deficit, turning it into a two-point game with just under 30 seconds left in the third quarter.
The stunning comeback by the Dreamers saw them pull past the Braves in a 41-26 run in the third quarter, walking off the court to warm applause from the Taipei crowd.
The Dreamers continued to push hard in the fourth quarter and found themselves up 108-105 with ball possession and only 21 seconds left in the game.
The Braves fouled in order to stop the clock before Dreamers center Brandon Gilbeck sunk one from two at the free-throw line to extend their lead to 109-105.
Braves swingman and last season's finals MVP Mike Singletary answered back from downtown to pull the scores to 109-108 to the excitement of the crowd.
Another foul from the Braves put Dreamers forward Randall Walko on the free-throw line to sink both shots to put the Dreamers three points in front.
A last offensive by the Braves in the final moments of the game saw them fail to catch the Dreamers, who walked off 111-108 winners.
There was some consultation for the losing side, with members of the Braves' title-winning team from the P. LEAGUE+'s inaugural season presented with their championship rings in a ceremony before the game.
Samuel Deguara, the 230 cm-tall Braves center, posted a double-double of 30 points and 20 rebounds, while Singletary also recorded 13 points and 11 rebounds. Dreamers sharpshooter Kenny Chien scored 30 points, including 5-6 from beyond the arc.
Dreamers head coach Kyle Julius said the way his team played in third quarter changed the game, calling the win "special."
"It's really special to come and play someone on their ring ceremony and steal the game from them, it's really special, it sends a message and it sets the tone. I remember losing to them by 30 in Game 4 last year and there's two seconds left in the third quarter and they called time out and where I'm from, you don't do that," Julius said.
The Braves were declared P. LEAGUE+'s first champions on May 18, three days after a stellar 115-90 performance against the Formosa Taishin Dreamers in Game 4 of the best-of-seven finals at Changhua County Stadium, with the scheduled Game 5 canceled.
At the time, the Taipei team had a 3-1 lead and were technically one win away from the title.
Braves head coach Hsu Chin-che (許晉哲) said the Dreamers defense caused his team to have 24 turnovers, but that everyone did their best even though he only had eight healthy players to rotate for the game.
The P. LEAGUE+'s second game will tip off on Dec. 5 with the Braves up against the Kaohsiung Steelers in Taipei.
The P. LEAGUE+ is one of two professional basketball leagues in Taiwan this year along with the T1 LEAGUE, which tipped off Nov. 27 in Taipei.
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