CHINESE-Taipei wasted no time proving it is a force to reckon with in the 27th Fiba-Asia Men’s Championship, upstaging Jordan in closely-fought contest, 91-87, in Thursday’s preliminaries at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Lin Chih-chieh showed the way for the Taiwanese with 27 points on 4-of-8 shooting from the three-point region as he led a huge fourth-quarter run by the team to complete the victory against the Jordanians, runner-up in the 2011 edition of the tournament in Wuhan, China.
The Chinese-Taipei-Jordan match-up featured the next two opponents of hosts Gilas Pilipinas in Group A of the tournament serving as qualifier for the World Basketball Championship in Spain next year.
National team deputy Jong Uichico was an interesting spectator at ringside and was accompanied by Nash Racela, Aboy Castro, and special external consultant Tab Baldwin – the same man who guided Jordan to the Fiba-Asia Finals in Wuhan.
The Taiwanese entered the final period trailing, 65-67.
But behind the hot hands of Lin, they went on and grabbed the upperhand, 75-72, midway into the quarter, before a short but telling 8-2 run had Chinese-Taipei stretching the lead to 83-74 entering the final 2:20.
Naturalized player Quincy Davis added 18 points and 11 rebounds for Chinese-Taipei, which also got 12 from veteran Lei Tien.
Playing minus the core of the team that placed second behind China two years ago, the Jordanians paraded eight new players, but hardly showed lack of cohesion as they led by as many as 10 points, 67-57, midway through the third period.
But the Jordanians failed to sustain the fire as Chinese-Taipei scored five unanswered points to close the gap by the end of the quarter.
“Jordan is a good team. We’re just lucky we won,” said Chinese-Taipei coach Hsu Chin-che.
Jimmy Baxter, the new American naturalized player of Jordan, topscored for 30 points while Wesam Al-Sous added 18 for the Jordanians.
Chinese-Taipei surprisingly outrebounded Jordan, 41-32. But the Jordanians nailed 12 three-pointers, with Baxter and Al-Sous combining for nine of them.
Chinese Taipei (91) – Lin 27, Davis III 18, Tien 12, Chen 10, Tseng 6, Yang 5, Lee 4, Tsai 4, Creighton 3, Hung 0, Chou 0
Jordan (87) – Baxter 30, Al-Sous 18, Abdeen 10, Abu Ruqayah 8, Hadrab 8, Zaghab 6, Alhamarsheh 5, Hussein 2, Alnajjar 0, Al Dwairi 0, Alfaraj 0
Quarterscores: 26-20; 41-41; 65-67; 91-87.