The first game of the inaugural P.League+ Championship Playoffs went in favour of the Formosa Taishin Dreamers who edged their ASEAN Basketball League rivals; the Taipei Fubon Braves 114-109 at a sold out Taipei Heping Gymnasium on Friday night.
The Braves earned an automatic ticket into the Championship Playoffs after finishing top in the regular season standings with a 19-5 record.
The third ranked Dreamers had to overcome the second ranked Taoyuan Pilots in a gruelling five game series, giving them only five days to rest to face a fresh Taipei Fubon Braves.
You can catch the full game here and the highlights here.
‘Jet’ Chang Tsung-Hsien got the Braves going with a quick lay up and within the first five minutes, the lead was seven thanks to a hook shot by Jet.
The Dreamer’s big man, Lee Te-Wei took it upon himself to ignite his team’s offense, scoring 14 first quarter points (including 3 three pointers) to give his team the lead with three minutes remaining.
Inspired by Lee Te-Wei’s play, the Dreamers rode the momentum, closing the quarter on a 9-2 run, securing them a 31-28 lead.
Mike Singletary bared his fangs early in the second quarter, scoring nine straight points to regain the Braves’ lead.
Tseng Hsiang-Chun soon followed with two baskets in the paint, stretching the home team’s lead back to seven.
Refusing to back down against the No.1 seeds, the Dreamers found their form from beyond the arc, making four long range bombs to take back the reigns of the game.
A Stephan Hicks three pointer made it a 58-53 lead for the Dreamers at the break.
Ihor Zaytsev and Mike Singletary combined to quickly tie up the game early in the third to set the stage for a closely contested third quarter.
Although the Dreamers were able to push the lead back to six midway through the quarter, the combined hot offense of Jet Chang and Mike Singletary reduced the deficit to only a single basket in no time.
Just as the Dreamers thought they could maintain their lead at the end of the quarter through an Amigo Yang-Chin Min three with 25 seconds remaining, the Braves veteran Tsai Wen-Cheng tied the game up with a buzzer beating floater at the end of the third.
The fourth quarter was once again a tight battle with little to separate between the two finalists.
With the game tied at 104 apiece with three minutes remaining, Jet Chang scored his 21st points with a tough jumper to restore the home team’s lead.
What followed at the ensuing play proved be a key turning point of the game which stirred controversy.
With the shot clock winding down, Amigo Yang sinked a desperation three pointer that sparked much protest from the Fubon Braves bench who claimed that the shot was not released on time.
Despite fervent protests that held up the game for five minutes, the referees did not change their decision and allowed the three to stand, making it a 107-106 lead for the visitors with three minutes to go.
Putting their frustrations behind them, the Braves pressed on and thanks to a fast break lay up by Lai Ting-En and a free throw from ‘The Beast’ Lin Chih-Chieh, the home team were able to take a one-point lead with a minute remaining.
Unfortunately for the Braves, former Grand View Viking, Jay Chen Jen-Jei coolly sank the biggest three pointer of his career at the following possession to make it a two-point lead for the Dreamers with 54 seconds to go.
‘Beast’ Lin Chih-Chieh’s three-point attempt to win the game rimmed out, allowing the Dreamers to see through the game at the free throw line.
The Dreamers had big performances all round with Stephan Hicks leading the way with 42 points and 17 rebounds. ‘Amigo’ Yang Chin-Min secured his first triple double of the season with a stellar performance of 23 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists. Lee Te-Wei finished with 17 points and 9 rebounds while the clutch player of the night, Jay Chen Jen-Jei notched 10 points.
The Braves’ import duo Mike Singletary and Ihor Zaystev both finished with 23 points. Jet Chang logged 21 points while Tsai Wen-Cheng contributed 15 points.
With the win, the Dreamers take a 1-0 lead in the best of seven series. Game 2 will take place on Sunday, 9th May, 5 PM at the Taipei Heping Gymnasium.