JOHOR BAHRU, Malaysia (21st FIBA Asia U18 Championship for Women): For the third game in a row, Thailand did all the running in their Level I game, this time against Chinese Taipei. But for the second successive night, Thailand fell short of gas when the final destination came closer.
Chinese Taipei’s 74-58 (Game Details) therefore not only brought them their first win in three games in the competition, but also virtually booked them a place in the semifinals – thereby ensuring the East Asian stranglehold of top four-finishes is retained even after close to a decade.
Now, the energy and enthusiasm along with some efficient elucidation of talent Thailand bring to the court is certainly a delight to watch. There is an amount of unbridled enthusiasm with which Joe Bryant conducts his plays, and the youngsters too respond rather well.
With such a concoction of positive energy in place, it’s only natural that Thailand are a more favored lot among the crowd than sometimes even the home team Malaysia.
Thailand’s performance has also ensured that their opponents have had to dig in their reserves to dish out their best in order to win.
Taipei coach Chang Yi-Te said as much heaving a sigh of relief on Monday.
“We had to really up our game in the final quarter. Else there was every chance that we would have got the wrong end of the stick,” she said.
Of course, when Taipei upped the ante they did outscore and outplay – 24-9 run in the final quarter taking them to victory.
Lin Yu-Ting had a game-high of 24 points, but 9 of them in the first part of the fourth quarter when Taipei took control of the scoreboard.
“It’s not been easy. These youngsters lack in confidence in executing the plans,” Chang Yi-Te rued the defeats in the first two games.
“We have another two to go. Hopefully we can get our act together,” she said.
Thailand coach Joe Bryant was obviously proud man.
“I think we have made everybody look up at Thailand basketball,” Bryant said.
“Victory and defeat are a part and parcel of sport. It’s more important to see how you lose than how you win,” he said.
Only two of Sirirak Daenkaewmoon’s team-high 15 points came in the final period and all of Warunee Kitraska’s dozen points came in the first three quarters.