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P. LEAGUE+ & T1 LEAGUE/Hoping to rule T1 LEAGUE again, DEA stays hot at home in season opener

10/29/2023 07:22 PM
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Photo: New Taipei CTBC DEA Oct. 28, 2023
Photo: New Taipei CTBC DEA Oct. 28, 2023

Taipei, Oct. 29 (CNA) When the players of the New Taipei CTBC DEA received their 2022-2023 T1 LEAGUE championship rings at a ceremony prior to their first game of the new season, it represented a look back at their recent success.

But as the defending champions showed Sunday with their 18th straight home victory dating back to 2022, a 106-92 win over the Tainan TSG GhostHawks, they are hoping to make the ring ceremony an annual event.

DEA captain Lin Wei-han (林韋翰) told a cheering crowd prior to the game what he hoped for in the future.

"So what's next? We will win the second one, the third one, we will have a ring on each of our ten fingers," the Finals MVP declared to the 4,182 spectators in attendance with a big smile, though many saw the boast as a desire to extend the DEA's home winning streak.

DEA captain Lin Wei-han (front third right) shows the championship ring while taking a group photo with his teammates prior to Saturday's game with Tainan TSG GhostHawks in New Taipei. Photo: New Taipei CTBC DEA Oct. 28, 2023
DEA captain Lin Wei-han (front third right) shows the championship ring while taking a group photo with his teammates prior to Saturday's game with Tainan TSG GhostHawks in New Taipei. Photo: New Taipei CTBC DEA Oct. 28, 2023

The DEA succeeded in achieving that Sunday. The last time the club lost at home was April 10, 2022, or 566 days ago, when they got a 123-92 drubbing at the hands of that season's champions, the Kaohsiung Aquas.

The victory also extended the club's dominance against the GhostHawks, having never lost to the Tainan franchise since the T1 LEAGUE opened in 2021.

The two teams were actually even four minutes into the third quarter Sunday, when the Sixth Man of the Year Ku Mao Wei-chia (谷毛唯嘉) put the GhostHawks ahead 60-58 with a floater.

But the DEA then went on a 17-7 run and ended the quarter ahead 80-69, a gap that proved too large for the GhostHawks to bridge.

Five DEA players scored in double figures, led by Mohammed al Bachir Gadiaga's 22 points.

Gadiaga, who worked out for Team Taiwan and was not able to practice with the DEA the entire summer, said he had no difficulty fitting into the team because "[our] playing style is the same as last year."

DEA small forward Mohammed al Bachir Gadiaga makes a three-pointer in the face of GhostHawks point guard Lee Han-sheng's defense in Saturday's game in New Taipei. Photo: New Taipei CTBC DEA Oct. 28, 2023
DEA small forward Mohammed al Bachir Gadiaga makes a three-pointer in the face of GhostHawks point guard Lee Han-sheng's defense in Saturday's game in New Taipei. Photo: New Taipei CTBC DEA Oct. 28, 2023

Though the DEA was outrebounded 44-30 by the Tainan side, which benefited from 19 boards by 2.30-meter Samuel Deguara, New Taipei responded with threes and speed, the same formula it used to sweep the GhostHawks in the T1 LEAGUE finals about four months ago.

The DEA made 15 of 36, or 41.7 percent, of their shots from beyond the arc, while the GhostHawks were only 11 of 32, or 34 percent.

The DEA also dominated in transition, scoring 27 points off fast breaks and 24 off turnovers, while the GhostHawks managed only six points in the two categories.

Though the continued dominance of the DEA stung, the GhostHawks may have suffered an even bigger loss, as Ku Mao was carried off the court 14 seconds into the final quarter when he twisted his left ankle.

"Ku Mao's ankle is swollen," said the Tainan team's head coach Liu Meng-chu (劉孟竹) after the game, but the GhostHawks' next game is not until Nov. 26 against the Taiwan Beer Leopards, and Liu felt confident the young All-Star would be ready to play by then.

(By Chao Yen-hsiang)

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