No Asian Championship trip for Taiwan

Taiwan lost to South Korea 86-71 Saturday in the East Asia Basketball Championship semifinal and Japan beat China 68-63 as Taiwan failed to win Asian Championship seeds and was out of the biennial event for the first time in history.

Japan and South Korea won the East Asia Zone seeds in the 2009 Asian Men’s Basketball Championship, which will be played in Tianjin, China. China already secured the seed as the host country.

Japan will meet South Korea Sunday for the title and Taiwan playing China in the consolation game. No one cares about the results though.

South Korea took the lead after an intense first quarter and gradually increased the lead. Despite shorter in heights (only two players above 6-7), Koreans outrebounded Taiwan 37-22 with an astonishing 16-3 advantage on offensive boards.

Kim Min-soo and Oh Sekeun, the only South Korea players above 200cm, tallied 32 points and 21 rebounds and outplayed the entire Taiwan frontline.

Wu Tai-hao had 18 points and four rebounds in 28 minutes but was ejected in the final period after two technical fouls for excessive elbow-swinging and pushing. The ill-tempered 24-year-old forward/center is expected to receive an one-game suspension in FIBA events.

Team captain Yang Che-yi scored team-high 21 points and Tien Lei had a modest 12 points.

Starting center Tseng Wen-ting played poorly, scoring only 4 points on 1-of-8 shooting and grabbed only one rebound in 16 minutes. Quoting University of Maryland head coach Gary Williams, my little daughter would have been hit in the head by a basketball more than once if she ran around on the court for 16 minutes…

Anyway, this has to be the lowest point of Taiwanese basketball, barring the turmoil of local professional basketball development. The result showed South Korean head coach Chung Kwang-suk is not a savior nor a magician. He could not turn Taiwanese basketball around in 10 days.

Ten years ago, Taiwan finished 4th in the Asian Men’s Championship in Fukuoka, the last time it did so. Ten years later, Taiwan doesn’t even have the right to play in the tournament. If basketball people in Taiwan don’t find this fact humiliating, unacceptable and hard to swallow, I don’t know what would make them feel that way.

I know I’ve said this a thousand times, but it’s time for a total reform and checkup. It’s time to bring in more imports to upgrade the competition level. It’s time for Wang Jen-da — or his kid brother Wang Jen-cheng, or his son Wang Tsai-hsiang — to quit manipulating and abusing Taiwanese basketball and let someone else manage the CTBA.

It’s time to admit that we suck and try to do the best we can do to make this sport a national favorite again.

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