Taiwan’s basketball team, which narrowly qualified for the event last year, started out well in the opening game of the 2022 FIBA Asia Cup in Indonesia on Tuesday, crushing Bahrain by 18 points. The Taiwanese team, playing under the name Chinese Taipei, defeated Bahrain 102-84 in Group B of the competition, which also features regional powerhouses China and South Korea.
Four teams are vying for the top slot in each of the four groups, which will advance them directly to the Asia Cup quarterfinals. Each group’s second and third-place teams will still have to compete in a phase known as “qualifications to quarterfinals.”
Bahrain won the opening jump ball in the match on Tuesday at Istora Stadium in the heart of Jakarta, but they were unable to maintain their five-point lead at the time.
The East Asian team played full court press for the remainder of the first quarter, which caused Bahrain to turn the ball over five out of six times as a result of Taiwan’s defense picking up the pace. Taiwan enjoyed a 45-33 lead at the end of the first half thanks to strong defense.
Taiwan was always in control
Taiwan maintained their lead after the half and never looked back. Taiwan center Chen Kuan-chuan () made a two-point jump shot with 1 minute, 10 seconds left on the clock, bringing the score to 100-81.
Taiwan scored two more points with the final buzzer ringing to seal the victory 102-84. Taiwan scored a total of 31 points from turnovers, demonstrating how important their defense was to the outcome of the game. Liu Cheng (), a forward from Taiwan, led all scorers with 29 points and two rebounds on 11-17 shooting from the field and 50% from beyond the arc.
Bahrain forward Devon Dwayne Chism responded with 10-20 from the field, including 1-6 three-pointers, to record a double-double of 24 points and 18 rebounds. The Taiwanese team will play South Korea on Thursday and China on Saturday in their upcoming games.
Taiwan narrowly defeated Guam in a last-chance qualifying round in August of last year to become the final team to qualify for the 2022 FIBA Asia Cup. The Taiwan team entered the Asia Cup Qualifiers at number 62 in the FIBA world rankings, but has subsequently slid seven spots to number 69 due to their current transitional status.
Taiwan, a forerunner in Asian basketball, was one of the seven nations that competed in the inaugural Asia Cup in 1960; the team came in second to the Philippines. With the exception of the years 1975 through 1983, Taiwan has since qualified for the Asia Cup practically every year.