BASKETBALL/Taipei Fubon Braves nail 1st win at EASL
Taipei, Nov. 16 (CNA) The Taipei Fubon Braves have defeated the TNT Tropang Giga from the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) 106-97 in the team's first-ever victory in the East Asia Super League (EASL) Wednesday on the back of 76 points by three imports.
The triumph at the Taipei Heping Basketball Gymnasium marked the three-time P.LEAGUE+ (PLG) champions' first win in the international league following an embarrassing four-game cross-season losing streak since the PLG powerhouse's EASL debut in March.
The Filipino ballclub entered the game with a 0-2 record, as did the Braves, and posed a threat to the host with former NBA players Quincy Miller and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson rallying for 67 points, including a fast break dunk thrown by the latter five seconds after tip-off.
The Braves did not back down this time, however, with Chris Johnson, Michael Singletary and Sedrick Barefield responding with 29, 26 and 21 points on 50+ field goal percentages for the W.
Braves head coach Roger Hsu (許晉哲) highlighted the 26 team assists after the game, saying he told the team to focus on teamwork, instead of playing like they had against the New Taipei Kings in the PLG season opener on Nov. 11, when the entire team only had 16 dimes.
Meanwhile, Hsu admitted the team found it hard to constrain the two former NBA players and Calvin Oftana, despite their defensive strategies.
It was not until the Braves started playing zone defense in the second quarter that the team took control of the game, Hsu said.
"Hollis-Jefferson had great moves and his fadeaway release was too high for our players."
Hollis-Jefferson, who played for six years in the NBA, is known for his moves similar to those of the late Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant and was dubbed by FIBA as "lefty Kobe" when he represented Jordan in the World Cup in August.
He scored a game-high 20 points in Jordan's semifinal victory over Taiwan at the Hangzhou Asian Games in early October.
During nearly 39 minutes on the floor, the Mamba from the Middle East logged 33 points, 10 assists, six rebounds, three steals and two blocks, as well as six turnovers.
However, Hollis-Jefferson did not attend the post-game interview due to discomfort, according to head coach Isabelo Lastimosa, who explained that his players are not familiar with the 40-minute EASL game format.
Both PLG and PBA games are 48 minutes, 12 minutes in each quarter.
The major surprise of Wednesday's game was Ifeanyi Uzoma Eboka, whose debut performance with the Braves was described by Hsu as "amazing" after he scored 13 points in 22 minutes and 19 seconds plus a game-high 17 plus/minus values.
Eboka, a Nigerian student from Shih Shin University, is categorized as a foreign student in the PLG and was signed by the Braves on Nov. 7 to fill the spot of Brendon Smart, who has not returned to the court because of injuries.
Eboka's offensive game was beyond expectations, Hsu said, adding that he contributed to the diversity of the Braves roster.
Despite the win, the rest of the Braves players performed poorly, chipping in a total of 17 points -- or 16 percent -- of the team's 106 points.
The next EASL game featuring a Taiwan team will be on Nov. 29, with the Kings set to host the Meralco Bolts of the PBA, while the Braves will visit the Giga's home court on Dec. 20 for their next game.
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