There will be a new FIBA Asia champion.
Chinese Taipei made sure of this after drubbing defending champion China, 96-78, in their FIBA Asia Championship quarterfinal match-up at the Mall of Asia Arena.
In an upset of monumental proportions, the Taiwanese overcame a sluggish first half with a super second half, outscoring the heavily-favored Chinese 56-28 over the last two quarters to barge into the semifinals of the tournament for the first time ever.
It was also the first time that Chinese Taipei has beaten mighty China, and they did it in style.
Down 35-50 late in the second period, the Formosans uncorked a 20-2 run birding the second and third periods to seize the lead for good at 55-52. A basket by Yi Jianlian put China within one, but that was the closest they would come as Taiwan closed the period with a 16-8 run.
Their confidence now soaring, the Taiwanese turned to naturalized player Quincy Davis and Tsai Wen-Cheng as the two combined to give Taiwan an 81-67 lead, time down to 5:50. Shaggy-haired forward Lin Chih-Chieh took over from there, scattering 10 of his 17 points over the last five minutes, including a shotclock-beating triple with 1:01 that gave Taiwan its biggest lead at 94-76.
The shocking loss capped a disappointing tournament for the defending champions. They lost two games in the first round, to Iran and Korea, and struggled past Kazakhstan in the second round. Their only huge wins came against lightweight opponents Malaysia, India and Bahrain.
Davis played his best game of the tournament, topscoring with 26 points and grabbing 10 rebounds while battling Yi and Wang Zhi Zhi in the paint.
The Main Man: While Chinese Taipei is primarily known as a three-point shooting team, in this game it was Davis and his inside moves that led the way. Davis shot a remarkable 12-of-13 from the field, including a perfect outing from two-point land, to finish with 26 points. He also grabbed 10 rebounds and blocked three shots.
Honorable Mentions: Tsai ably supported Davis with 21 points and 7 rebounds, while Lin hit several big shots in the fourth period to completely break China's spirit. Tien Lei also did some damage with 13 points, including three triples, that helped Chinese Taipei extend their lead in the second half.
They Said It:
Chinese Taipei Coach Hsu Chin-Che: It's a magical day. I just told my players to focus and execute our game plan. I'm - how do you say it? - more than happy.
Chinese Taipei forward Tien Lei: In the past, a game against China would be over by the first or second quarter. Today, we were focused and ready. It's a big win for us.