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June 24, 2017

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Naturalized baller bolsters ROC's prospects on hardcourt

Taiwan's national basketball team once again topped the supposedly stronger national squad on the other side of the Taiwan Strait earlier this month at this year's FIBA Asia Cup on July 17.

Team Chinese Taipei, the name Taiwan uses at international sports competitions, beat the Chinese national team 84-73 in the semifinals of the tournament played in Wuhan city, the capital of Hubei Province in China.

The victory was the third consecutive win for a Taiwanese national team against China in two years. The win advanced Taiwan to the 2014 FIBA Asia Cup's final round to face the defending Asia champion, Iran. Although Taiwan ultimately lost at the final, it still made history, as the second place finish is the country's best result yet at the FIBA Asia Cup, which is in its fifth year.

The team's historic performance marks not the first time Taiwan has upset Team China, even though the island country has never been known as an Asian powerhouse in the game of basketball.

The Taiwanese men's national hoops team has a history of mediocrity, with its previous best record a third-place finish in the 1989 Asia Championships, whereas in recent years it stayed between fifth and 10th most of the time.

However, to everyone's surprise, Taiwan produced a stunning 96-78 upset victory over their much taller rival China on Aug. 9, 2013, advancing the team to the semifinals of the FIBA Asia Championship for the first time since 1999.

This marked an unprecedented and historic triumph over our mainland rivals in the 28 years since the start of the international contest.

Two months later, Taiwan did it again.

The national squad rallied late to defeat China 82-79 and win the gold medal in men's basketball in the East Asian Games on Oct. 14, 2013, the country's second stunning win against its arch-rival on the hardwood in just over two months.

Now a much younger Team Taiwan, featuring players mostly in their early 20s, again showed the Asian basketball world that Taiwan hoops has a new look and is now a force that should be recognized.

The victories were largely thanks to the infusion of a naturalized foreign import, 203-centimeter center Quincy Davis, who played a major role in two out of the three triumphs against China.

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