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BASKETBALL/Wang Lu-hsiang steals show in Steelers' first win over Braves this season

02/03/2024 10:21 PM
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Kaohsiung 17LIVE Steelers Wang Lu-hsiang makes a game-winning three-pointer in Saturday's game in Taipei. Photo courtesy of P.LEAGUE+ Feb. 3, 2024
Kaohsiung 17LIVE Steelers Wang Lu-hsiang makes a game-winning three-pointer in Saturday's game in Taipei. Photo courtesy of P.LEAGUE+ Feb. 3, 2024

Taipei, Feb. 3 (CNA) The Kaohsiung 17LIVE Steelers frustrated the Taipei Fubon Braves for the first time in the 2023-24 P.LEAGUE+ (PLG) season following a 90-89 victory courtesy of Wang Lu-hsiang's (王律翔) clutch three.

Wang's shot put an end to the Braves' three-game winning streak, concluding the game with a rollercoaster-like run.

Most of the home court spectators could not sit any longer when Lin Chih-chieh (林志傑) drilled a three-pointer to put the Braves ahead 89-85 with 53 seconds left in the game. For a moment, the game reminded Taipei fans of Wednesday's game with the Formosa Dreamers, in which the "Beast" secured the overtime wins for the franchise on a similar late trey.

The 41-year-old veteran, who finished with 14 points, led the Braves in the fourth quarter with eight points, including six within the last minute of the game.

Lin Chih-chieh celebrates after making a three-pointer in the fourth quarter. Photo courtesy of P.LEAGUE+ Feb. 3, 2024
Lin Chih-chieh celebrates after making a three-pointer in the fourth quarter. Photo courtesy of P.LEAGUE+ Feb. 3, 2024

However, Wang came off the bench and stole the spotlight.

Following a long two from the right wing, Wang made the game-winning shot from the right corner some 30 seconds later and saw the ball drain in after making one bounce off the rim, putting the Steelers back ahead 90-89 with 1.38 seconds till the buzzer.

After a timeout, Chris Johnson, who grabbed 23 rebounds to tie the PLG record, attempted a tough shot for the Braves, but the ball did not go in.

"I didn't think too much on that shot. I shot badly tonight. But I think shooting is my job after all, so I just stayed calm and adjusted the release," Wang said after the game.

Wang finished the game with 13 points, but he made only one of his six threes before the game-winning shot.

Wang's teammate Chang Po-wei (張伯維) was excited after the game, expressing his gratitude to Wang for saving the game following his own late blunder.

The Steelers held the lead 85-82 to the Braves with 95 seconds left, but Chang fouled Lin on a three-point attempt, to which his subsequent reaction was officiated a technical foul. That saw the Braves make all four free throws to one-up the guest team before Lin's trey.

"Though I have no idea why I got a technical foul, I want to give Lu-hsiang a big thank-you for saving the game, or we would have lost it tonight," Chang said.

Photo courtesy of Kaohsiung 17LIVE Steelers Feb. 3, 2024
Photo courtesy of Kaohsiung 17LIVE Steelers Feb. 3, 2024

Although the Steelers still sit on the bottom of the P.LEAGUE+ (PLG) with a 5-14 record, the team rose quietly as it won four of its last six games following a PLG record-breaking 11-game losing streak.

Asked to comment on the team's recent surge, Steelers head coach Chiou Dah-tzong (邱大宗) said it "actually could have seized many of the games we lost, but our players tended to fail to hold onto it down the stretch."

Chiou said the team has improved their communication on the defensive end and he looked forward to seeing the effect last.

Prior to the game, the Steelers yielded 98.4 points per game, by far the most in the PLG. In their recent four wins they gave 83-89 points a game.

Meanwhile, Braves head coach Roger Hsu (許晉哲) said he was to blame for the upsetting result.

"I believe that in one-point losses [like today] the responsibilities are on the coach. Our players had a great game today and gave us a chance to win, but I didn't do my job well to [help them] seize it," Hsu said.

That result may be partly attributed to Michael Singletary's absence, according to Chiou, which was in Kaohsiung's favor.

Singletary sustained a fibula fracture in the right foot during a game with the Dreamers on Jan. 27 due to a collision with the Dreamers big man Brandon Gilbeck, an injury that will sideline the two-time PLG finals MVP for at least six weeks, according to the Braves.

Singletary was seen at the courtside Saturday, and his appearance motivated his teammates, among them Jian Ting-jhao (簡廷兆), who had 17 points.

"After seeing Mike at the courtside today, I wanted to win this game more for him. It's a shame that we didn't," the Braves point guard said.

This is the Braves' first loss to the Steelers this season, still 3-1 head-to-head after the game.

Also on Saturday, the Dreamers arrested their five-game slump by routing the New Taipei Kings 91-70 in Changhua.

Four Dreamers recorded double-figure scoring with Randall Walko's game-high 22 off the bench, while Kenneth Manigault led the Kings with 18 points.

The Dreamers will host the Taoyuan Pauian Pilots at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday, and the Braves will take on the Hsinchu Toplus Lioneers at Taipei Heping Basketball Gymnasium later the same day.

The Steelers will square off against the Kings at Xinzhuang Gymnasium on Tuesday for the last game of the PLG before the Lunar New Year holiday.

(By Chao Yen-hsiang)

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