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11 Ilyoung Heo (KOR)
07/06/2017
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Final Preview - Can Chinese Taipei end Korea's dominance at the EABA Championship?

NAGANO (EABA Championship 2017) - Defending champions Korea are aiming for an unprecedented 4-peat at the EABA Championship, but upstarts Chinese Taipei are hoping to thwart their shot at history.

Korea have won all three previous editions of this tournament. They beat Japan in the 2009 and 2011 Finals before defeating China in the 2013 Final. Coach Hur Jae's crew actually finished second in Group A after losing to Japan in the first round, but they booked their slot in the Final by upsetting previously unbeaten China on Day 4, 106-104, in overtime.

Chinese Taipei, for their part, will play in their first EABA Championship Final. They finished among the top four teams in 2009 and 2011, but they missed the Semi-Final in 2013. This is a shot at redemption for them, but it's also a golden chance to pull the rug from under the Koreans, who have been Taipei's tormentors on the hardwood for quite some time. Coach Chou Chun-San's wards did not look impressive to start the tournament after losing to China on Day 1, but they recovered against Hong Kong and scored a gigantic upset against Japan in the Semi-Final.

Korea's outlook: Just making it this far is a stellar achievement already for Korea, who have just two holdovers from the team that played in the FIBA Asia Championship 2015 - Lee JongHyun and Kang SangJae. Both have been solid for coach Hur Jae so far, but the real gems have been Lee DaeSung and Jeon JunBeom. Together, DaeSung and JunBeom have combined to make 7 triples per game, stretching opposing defenses and making life extra difficult for Korea's foes. If their frontliners, anchored on JongHyun and Sangjae, can keep Quincy Davis in check and if their shooters remain hot, Korea should coast to their fourth EABA title in a row.

Chinese Taipei's outlook: Coach Chou's squad is not even supposed to be here - not when ranged against the bigger Chinese, hosts Japan and defending champs Korea. Still, they have made it this far, and they are certainly not going to just let this chance slip by. Quincy Davis was unstoppable against Japan, and he should make Korea's bigs work again here. The wing duo of Chou Yi-Hsiang and Liu Cheng can cause fits, too, and if those two have strong performances, Korea's younger, more inexperienced wingmen may be in trouble. Despite that, it's clear that the Taipei quintet are the underdogs here, and it'll take nothing short of their A-game to bring home their first EABA Championship crown.


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