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BASKETBALL/New Taipei Kings take first PLG crown after nail-biting overtime win

06/21/2024 03:24 PM
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CNA photo June 20, 2024
CNA photo June 20, 2024

Taoyuan, June 21 (CNA) The New Taipei Kings on Thursday captured the 2023-2024 P.LEAGUE+ (PLG) title after defeating the Taoyuan Pauian Pilots 103-97 in overtime.

The win gave the Kings a 4-1 victory in the best-of-seven series and its first championship in the league that began in the 2020-21 season.

The Kings made the PLG finals last year but lost in the final 4-2 to the Taipei Fubon Braves, which won the league's first three championship series.

Facing an elimination game at home, the Pilots went for broke, including Treveon Graham in the starting five along with the league's regular season MVP Lu Chun-hsiang (盧峻翔) and Import Player of the Year winner Jason Washburn.

Conversely, due to an injury that took him out of Game 4 on June 17, former NBA star Jeremy Lin (林書豪) did not start for the Kings, but was healthy enough to come off the bench in the first quarter with his team trailing 16-10.

Lin helped the Kings get back on track to tie the score at the end of the first quarter 22-22, but it was his brother Joseph Lin (林書緯) who took over the second quarter with 12 points, including back-to-back threes that opened up a 10-point lead for New Taipei.

The Kings led at halftime 52-41 and carried an 80-67 lead into the final quarter, when the Pilots mounted a furious rally.

Lu, who had been quiet up to that point after being hit with four fouls, decided to pick up the pace, and his three-pointer and one by guard Li Chia-kang (李家康) gave the Pilots an 83-82 lead with 2:35 to go.

Lu extended the lead to 85-82 with a short jumper with just under two minutes to go, but the Kings' Lee Kai-yan (李愷諺) hit a huge three-pointer with 18 seconds left to tie the game at 85-85.

CNA photo June 20, 2024
CNA photo June 20, 2024

Graham and Kings forward Austin Daye both had decent looks at potentially game-winning three-point shots in the final 10 seconds, but neither went in.

In overtime, the Lin brothers both fouled out, leaving Lee and Wendell Lewis to lead the team, but that did not stop the Kings from quickly taking control in the five-minute period and building a 10-point lead, 98-88, with 1:40 left.

The Pilots whittled that down to a 100-97 deficit with 21 seconds left, but could not complete the comeback, and the Kings' Su Shih-hsuan (蘇士軒) clutched the ball in the final four seconds to seal the win.

'Unforgettable'

The championship put an exclamation point on the season for the Lin brothers, who were playing together professionally this season for the first time in their careers.

Joseph Lin described it as an "unforgettable experience," while Jeremy, who won his second title after being part of the 2018-2019 NBA champion Toronto Raptors, said he was at a loss for words but echoed his brother's sentiment that the opportunity was memorable.

Jeremy Lin did elaborate, however, on the injury that hobbled him in the final two games of the series, saying he tore his meniscus and was unable to walk two days before the clincher.

Lin said the Kings' team physicians and trainers helped him get back on his feet to play Thursday, but added that he will need to nurse the injury for now and is uncertain of what he will do next.

(By Huang Chiao-wen and James Lo)

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