P. LEAGUE+ & T1 LEAGUE/Dwight Howard to star in first-ever T1 LEAGUE All-Star Game
Taipei, Feb. 2 (CNA) Eight-time NBA All-Star Dwight Howard of the Taoyuan Leopards has been selected to lead a team in the All-Star Game (ASG) of the T1 LEAGUE that will take place on Feb. 28 in Taipei, with the New Taipei CTBC DEA small forward Mohammed al Bachir Gadiaga leading the other side.
The T1 LEAGUE, one of two professional basketball leagues in Taiwan, is set to hold its inaugural ASG festivities at Taipei Heping Basketball Gymnasium, where Howard and Gadiaga, known as "Abbasi" to local fans, will lead Team Infinity and Team Beyond, respectively, according to an announcement by the league on Wednesday.
"I just want to say thank you to all the fans in Taiwan who voted for me and the rest of my teammates. I really appreciate each and every one of you," said the American "Superman" in a recorded video released on the Leopards' Instagram account.
"I want to go out there and get some slams, get some threes and make the game very competitive, so we can have a great all-star game for all the fans that will be watching," Howard added.
In accordance with the theme of the T1 LEAGUE's 2022-23 season "Welcome to the T1 Universe," players in the ASG were divided into two teams according to their zodiac signs, with those with air and fire signs put on one team and those with water and earth signs grouped in the other team.
Here are the two teams' starting lineups:
Chiang Yu-an (蔣淯安, TaiwanBeer HeroBears)
Lee Chi-wei (李啟瑋, HeroBears)
Ku Mao Wei-chia (谷毛唯嘉, Tainan TSG GhostHawks)
Mindaugas Kupsas (Kaohsiung Aquas)
Dwight Howard (Leopards)
Mohammed al Bachir Gadiaga (New Taipei CTBC DEA)
Lin Wei-han (林韋翰, DEA)
Hsieh Ya-hsuan (謝亞軒, DEA)
Jason Brickman (Aquas)
Robert Upshaw III (GhostHawks)
The other players that will come off Team Infinity's bench are the Aquas' Chiu Tzu-hsuan (邱子軒), Yu Huan-ya (于煥亞) and Lin Jen-hung (林任鴻); the Leopards' Lu Chieh-min (盧捷閔) and Michael Efevberha; the HeroBears' Chu I-tsung (朱億宗) and Branden Dawson; and the DEA's Edgaras Zelionis.
As for Team Beyond, their other players include the DEA's Lin Ping-sheng (林秉聖), Tseng Wen-ting (曾文鼎) and Krajina Kristijan; the Taichung Suns' Marlon Johnson and Aaron Geramipoor; the Aquas' Hu Long-mao (胡瓏貿), the GhostHawks' Chien Wei-ju (簡偉儒), and the HeroBears' Tsao Xun-xiang (曹薰襄).
Howard, who is averaging 23.8 points, 12.8 rebounds, and 4.8 assists after making six appearances for the Leopards so far, topped all selections with 46,968 fan votes in the 12-day voting campaign, while Abbasi, who nearly stole the spotlight at Howard's debut by scoring 51 points when their teams met on Nov. 19, got 44,266 votes, according to the T1 LEAGUE's press statement.
The 13 players on each team consist of five local backcourt players, three local frontcourt players, and five imported players, who were decided by team staffers, media workers and fans, the league said in a statement earlier in January.
"It's our responsibility to be showy enough to thank the fans for their support," Abbasi said, asking fans to look forward to the special tricks he will prepare.
The DEA led the league with seven players chosen while the Suns had the least with two selected.
In addition, the GhostHawks' Ku Mao will be the sole rookie to start in the ASG, where he will be joined by the HeroBears' Tsao and the Aquas' Chiu as the only three rookies on the two All-Star teams.
The two teams' head coaches, however, will not be officially announced until the end of the game between the Leopards and the Suns on Feb. 5, when the league will select the head coaches of its top two teams at that point to lead Team Infinity and Team Beyond.
As of Thursday, the DEA and the Aquas are first and second in the league with 10-4 and 9-5 records, respectively, while the GhostHawks are third with an 8-7 record.
Aside from the ASG, the festivities will also consist of a three-point contest and a dunk contest, in which Howard said he would not participate in order to get a better rest for the ASG and the second half of the regular season.
Feb. 20: Kaohsiung Aquas' Brendan Joyce grateful to coach T1 LEAGUE All-Star Game
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