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Locals stand ready for uphill battle in FIBA Asia Cup

The 34th William Jones Cup International Basketball Tournament for men ended last month in Taipei when the host team finished fourth in the nine-team tourney.

The outcome was one of the best performances for an Asian team in the annual mid-summer basketball classic this year, trailing only behind the Philippines, Iran and the United States.

One of the most memorable performances for local athletes during the tournament was the last game against basketball nemesis South Korea.

Taiwan's power forward Tien Lei (田壘) shot a clutch three-pointer, which bounced around the rim twice before going in to break a 72-all tie with under 30 seconds remaining to give the home team the lead that ultimately helped the hosts rally from behind to overcome the Koreans 77 to 72 for a dramatic victory.

The yearly basketball event, which began in Taipei 33 years ago in an effort to improve the skills of local players, features two local teams: the Taiwanese national team and the national squad's second team called Kuang Hua (光華), which is made up mostly of college all-stars. The event also features teams from Iran, Japan, Jordan, Lebanon, the Philippines, South Korea and the U.S.

Most commentators attributed the better-than-expected performance of the host team to its roster, which was arguably the most complete lineup that Taiwan has managed to secure in years.

The lineup featured the nation's No. 1 center Tseng Wen-ting (曾文鼎) and top scorer Lin “the Beast” Chih-chieh (林志傑) as well as point guard Lee Hsueh-lin (李學林) who just won the MVP award of the 2011-12 Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) Finals in China, becoming the first Taiwanese player to win the award.

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