The fourth P.League + clash between the ASEAN Basketball League Chinese Taipei rivals saw the Formosa Taishin Dreamers withhold a furious late game rally to secure the win against the Taipei Fubon Braves at the Changhua County Stadium last Saturday.
The Dreamers started well as Stephan Hicks opened the scoring with a basket in the paint off an assist from birthday boy, Kenny Chien.
Hicks and former Singapore Slinger, Jerran Young combined for a 9-2 run before Charles Garcia stamped his authority on the game with eight points to make it a one basket game.
With Garcia threatening to take over, the Dreamers’ local players proved to be the X Factor, scoring all 11 points on a 11-4 run to close out the first quarter with a 27-15 score line as the Braves struggled to contain the Dreamer’s transition offense.
Ihor Zaytsev who was scoreless in the first quarter, got the Braves going in the second quarter with two inside baskets and an assist for a Tsai Wen-Cheng three pointer to cut the lead to single digits.
Jerran Young quickly regained control for the home team, first with a tough drive and layup, followed by a steal and fast break dunk that brought the home crowd to their feet.
The visitors struggled with turnovers and foul trouble for Ihor Zaytsev as the Dreamers steadily increased their lead throughout the quarter. A buzzer beating three pointer from Taiwanese American, Randall Walko made it a 19 point lead for the hosts entering the half time break.
The Braves committed an alarming 18 turnovers in the first half with 7 coming from Ihor Zaytsev.
‘Jet’ Chang Tsung-Hsien who was scoreless in the first half, opened the third quarter scoring for the Braves as they began their attempt to claw their way back into the game.
A pair of Stephan Hicks fast break dunks poured cold water on the Braves’ push as the Dreamers extended the lead to a game high 21 with 4:27 remaining in the third.
The visitors would receive a late quarter push from veteran, Chang Po-Wei who scored eight points to trim the lead to 14.
It was Jerran Young however with the final say, sinking an amazing buzzer beating three pointer from the mid court logo to close the quarter with a 78-61 lead for the home team.
A three from Chien Wei-Ju started the Braves’ fourth quarter fightback as the Braves began to impose their size advantage.
With P.League + rules only allowing one import on the floor in the final quarter, the Dreamers faced adversity in defending against the twin towers Charles Garcia and Tseng-Hsiang Chun.
A thunderous dunk from Tseng Hsiang-Chun sparked a run that led to the Braves cutting the lead to eight at the 5:30 mark.
The Dreamers suffered a further blow with center, Lee Te-Wei fouling out of the game with 4:12 remaining.
Despite the size disadvantage, it was the Dreamers’ shortest player on the court, the 175 cm 2020 University Basketball Association (UBA) MVP Lin Chun-Chi who rose to the occasion with a three pointer and a floater over the 205 cm Tseng Hsiang-Chun to increase the lead back to double digits with three minutes to go.
The Braves kept up their offense in the paint and were eventually able to cut the lead to only five after a dunk from Charles Garcia with 1:43 remaining.
The following play from the home team proved crucial with Stephan Hicks making the important three pointer off an assist from Lin-Chun Chi to take the lead back to eight with 1:21 on the clock.
With firm defensive stops and careful clock management on offense, the home team were able to ride through the final minute without serious threat from the Braves, closing off the game 100-91 to secure their first victory of the season against the Braves.
The Dreamer’s top performer was Stephan Hicks who had 27 points and 10 rebounds. Fellow import, Jerran Young had 27 points along with 9 rebounds. Lin-Chun Chi has his best game of the season, scoring 17 points. Despite struggling from the field, ‘Amigo’ Yang-Chin Min made his mark on the game with a season high 11 assists.
It was a day to forget for the Braves; shooting a poor 31% from the field and committing 24 turnovers. Charles Garcia was their best player, collecting his seventh straight double double with 28 points and 11 rebounds.
The next day, the Dreamers completed a perfect weekend, defeating the bottom ranked Hsinchu JKO Lioneers 96-85 to secure consecutive wins for the first time in the season. Anthony Tucker led the charge with 26 points and 13 rebounds. Jerran Young also had another impressive performance, logging in 23 points and 13 rebounds.
With the two victories over the weekend, the Dreamers improve their record to 5-7, remaining third in the standings.
The Braves’ miserable weekend was compounded with another loss on Sunday. The Braves took their worst loss of the season, falling 82-97 to the Taoyuan Pilots in spite of a stellar performance from Mike Singletary who had 28 points, 14 rebounds and 4 assists.
The Braves ended the weekend still on top of the standings with a 10-3 record.
The Dreamers will next face second ranked Taoyuan Pilots on the road on the 20th of February. The ASEAN Basketball League rivals will clash once again at Changhua County Stadium on the 21st of February.
Photo Credit: P.League+