AS Gilas Pilipinas players left the court with their heads down, Chinese-Taipei’s bruising center Tseng Wen-ting couldn't contain his joy as he celebrated animatedly with teammates following their come-from-behind 84-79 victory at the Mall of Asia Arena on Saturday night.
He has all the reasons to be happy.
Tseng admitted that he had been dreaming of beating the Philippine team, aware that the Filipinos have all but owned the Taiwanese since the 2009 Fiba-Asia men’s basketball championship.
Prior to Saturday night’s emotionally charged face-off, the Philippines had gone 3-0 against Taipei.
But the tables were turned on Saturday when the Taiwanese went on an audacious fourth-quarter charge highlighted by a foul-plagued Tseng’s three-point shot off the glass that put his team ahead for good, 78-77 heading into the final two minutes of the game.
“I’ve been thinking about this (win over the Philippines), waiting to beat the Philippines because we don’t want another loss,” Tseng told Spin.ph through the team’s interpreter.
Tseng said it helped that Taipei national coach Hsu Chin-che reminded them to stay calm after falling behind by 13 points heading into the final period and the pro-Gilas crowd booing them at every turn.
“Coach just told us that we still have time, just don’t be nervous and just play defense,” said the 6-7 Taiwanese big man, who played with an aching back and hurting knee.