Taiwan missed an opportunity to make history by losing to South Korea 79-68 Thursday in the semifinal of the FIBA Asia U18 Championship for Men in Sanaa, Yemen.
If the team had advanced to the championship game, it would have at least matched its best record — silver medal finishes in 1972 and 1989 — in the biennial tournament and could have made a challenge for its first gold in history.
Taiwan was dealt a knockout blow in the decisive third quarter, when the Koreans opened the second half with a 17-2 run, turning a close game into a rout. Taiwan was out-scored 23-10 in the period and trailed by as many as 18 points.
Unable to match Korea’s inside play, Taiwan was out-rebounded 39-22. Korea, which was led by Lee Seounghyun’s 17 points and 14 rebounds and Lee Jonghyun’s 15 points and 10 rebounds, also made 10 more free throws than the Taiwanese.
Center Hu Lung-mao scored a team-high 25 points to go with eight rebounds and six steals for Taiwan, which was leading 35-34 at halftime. Chen Ying-chun and Huang Po-wei had 13 points each.
The team will meet Iran, which lost to China in the other semifinal match, in Friday’s bronze medal game. It is still something worth playing for because the top three teams in the tournament will represent Asia in the 2011 FIBA U19 World Championship, which will be played in Latvia June 30-July 10, 2011.