CHINESE-Taipei pulled off what could be the biggest upset in the Fiba-Asia Championship, beating mighty defending champion China, 96-78, on Friday to advance to the semifinals at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The Taiwanese began the third quarter with a crippling 15-2 run, the momentum swing too big to overcome for the 2011 champions whose campaign ended with a shock quarterfinal defeat.
Lin Chih-chieh put the finishing touches to the upset victory with a step-back three-pointer at the 1:01-mark followed by a rousing scream as teammates celebrated Taipei's first significant victory over its mainland counterparts in basketball.
Yi Jianlian was a forlorn figure on the bench as the Taiwanese celebrated on the court as China ended one of its most disappointing campaigns since rising to prominence in Asian basketball.
China's campaign, which also saw losses to Iran and Korea in the preliminaries, left it outside the magic circle of three that would gain spots to next year's world championships in Spain.
Chinese-Taipei coach Hsu Chin-che was a picture of happiness following a milestone victory for his home country, which to this day is being claimed by the mainland as part of its territory.
“I just said one thing at the beginning of the tournament. I told the players to play hard, play smart, and play together. Today, I only wanted my players to do one thing — focus,” said Hsu.
Five points to end the second quarter including a buzzer-beating triple from hung Chih-shan lifted the spirits of Chinese Taipei as they trimmed the deficit to a manageable 40-50 at halftime.
The Taiwanese actually scored the second half’s first 10 points to tie the game before continuing to pounce the defense of China, limiting the defending champions to only 12 points in the third for a 71-62 lead.
Chinese-Taipei mangled China’s defense as it shot a torrid 60 percent from the field with Quincy Davis going 12-of-13 for 26 points.
Tsai Wen-chang had 21 points for Taiwan. Lin, scoreless against Qatar last Wednesday, had 17 points while Tien Lei added 13 points including a slam dunk that pumped up Chinese-Taipei for an 87-74 lead in the fourth.
“We let them score easy basket,” said an exasperated China coach Panagiotis Giannakis.
Yi, saddled by injuries that forced him to sit most of the tournament, had 22 points and 10 rebounds but could not lift the Chinese to victory.
Chinese-Taipei (96) – Davis 26, Tsai 21, Lin 17, Tien 13, Hung 11, Lu 7, Yang 1, Tseng 0, Chen 0.
China (78) – Yi 22, Wang Shipeng 17, Zhu 11, Wang Zhelin 10, Wang Zhizhi 9, Zhou 7, Guo 2, Liu 0, Chen 0, Sun 0, Zhang 0.
Quarterscores: 20-28; 40-50; 71-62; 96-78.