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BASKETBALL/DeMarcus Cousins posts new high in potential last pro game in Taiwan

01/29/2024 07:57 PM
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DeMarcus Cousins (in dark green). CNA photo Jan. 28, 2024
DeMarcus Cousins (in dark green). CNA photo Jan. 28, 2024

Taipei, Jan. 29 (CNA) DeMarcus Cousins effortlessly achieved a 30-point game on January 28 at Taoyuan Arena in the Taiwan Beer Leopards' 114-88 victory over the Tainan TSG GhostHawks.

Despite playing only 28 minutes and 5 seconds, the shortest outing in his four games in Taiwan, the four-time NBA All-Star set a new high score by making 11 of 18 shots, including three of six from beyond the arc. He also registered five rebounds and five assists, alongside Devin Williams' 20-30 game, bouncing back from a loss one day earlier and handing the GhostHawks their seventh consecutive defeat.

Three more Leopards' players contributed double-figure points, including top two 2023 T1 LEAGUE draft picks Lin Sin-kuan (林信寬) with 16 and Gao Jin-wei (高錦瑋) with 12. In contrast, Tainan had only two from its imports, led by Nicholas King's 22.

"To come in with the focus for every game tonight shows this team is moving in the right direction," Boogie said after the game.

"Just play the game the right way tonight, there was a lot of joy on the floor. When you play with joy, you see smiles, you see guys perform well, you see the ball move the way it did tonight. Everybody got a piece of the part tonight. That was the type of game you wish for on a nightly basis."

CNA photo Jan. 28, 2024
CNA photo Jan. 28, 2024

The game concluded the American big man's four-game stint with Taiwan Beer with a 3-1 record. He averaged 22 points, 11.8 rebounds, 5.5 assists, two steals, plus 1.3 blocks in nearly 30 minutes on the floor per game.

The stats positioned the Leopards at the top of the five-team league with an 11-5 record, 0.5 games ahead of the defending champions New Taipei CTBC DEA.

Asked to comment on his general impression of the sport in Taiwan, Cousins said he felt the game in Taiwan is "based on the fundamental foundation of the game," appreciating it as he grew up learning how to play basketball.

During the press conference for his addition on Jan. 19, Cousins mentioned that the sport has evolved a lot over the years, and big men today have to be able to do various things while protecting the paint, as required.

Among the big men's old tasks is rebounding, demonstrated by Williams, who feasted on the glass on both sides and grabbed 33 rebounds, breaking the T1 LEAGUE record of 31 set by Dwight Howard in 2023.

However, the number was still two short of his personal record, Williams said, adding that it was an honor to play and learn from a dynamic big man like Cousins, who "makes the game easy."

It remains unclear whether the 33-year-old big man will return to the Leopards, but Boogie confirmed that there is mutual interest between the two sides and promised that "everything [about Taiwan] is gonna be a positive note."

"I've really, really enjoyed my time here. I've said that many times, and I really do mean it. I think everyone in the organization can see that and recognize it's real," he said, reiterating his appreciation of local fans' hospitality that made the transition an easy one.

He added that basketball in Taiwan could be elevated to the next level by expanding the league with more teams, which has attracted players like himself and Howard to the island, though he said he has no correct answers.

In context, that expansion could also involve a merger of two pro leagues in Taiwan, the T1 LEAGUE and the P.LEAGUE+ (PLG).

Boogie will play a cross-league exhibition game with the Hsinchu Toplus Lioneers in the P.LEAGUE+ (PLG) starting at 7 p.m. at Hsinchu County Stadium Tuesday before leaving Taiwan on Wednesday.

Over 4,000 tickets to the game have been sold, according to the Lioneers, whose home court can host over 6,400.

Earlier this month, PLG CEO Webber Cheng (鄭偉柏) revealed that the league is keeping its options open in that regard, and fans' response to the game on Tuesday could be an important reference.

On Monday, the GhostHawks announced Raoul Korner as the first foreign head coach in the franchise.

The GhostHawks announced the departure of Liu Meng-chu (劉孟竹) as their head coach on Jan. 9 when the team's record hit 3-8. Liu's position was taken over by assistant coach Lin Yu-cheng (林育正) and as acting head coach he was 0-3 as of Jan. 28.

The 2022-23 T1 LEAGUE championship contenders are now sitting at the bottom of the league with a 3-11 record, 0.5 games back from the 4-11 Taipei Mars.

There will be no T1 LEAGUE game until Feb. 17, when the Kaohsiung Aquas host the Mars at Kaohsiung Arena.

(By Chao Yen-hsiang)


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