Will Chinese Taipei pull the rug from under Australia?
BEIRUT (FIBA Asia Cup 2017) - In a competition where we have seen upsets left and right, can Chinese Taipei provide another one at the expense of title favorites Australia?
Chinese Taipei are coming from a debilitating loss to East Asia rivals Japan, 87-49, and they need a big pick-me-upper of a win in this one, but it will be a tremendous uphill climb against an Aussie squad that just plastered Hong Kong, 99-58. The Taipei quintet should not be overlooked, though, especially with their vaunted speed and shooting capable of keeping them abreast of any other team.
Key Matchup: Mitchell Creek has been Australia's main man so far in their first two wins. He has put up 12.5 points per game, shown great rebounding and passing and displayed tremendous hops. Guarding him on the other end will be a former MVP of Taipei's Super Basketball League, Liu Cheng. The usually highly productive Liu has had a subpar showing so far in this tournament, averaging only 6.0 points per contest, but he is the type of player who can get hot in a minute, so the Boomers cannot afford to look past him easily.
Key Stat: Outside shooting will certainly be a critical factor in this game. That's really the only way Taipei can hang Australia, so the Aussies have to make sure they minimize the open threes of their Eats Asia foes. If shooters like Liu, Chou Yi-Hsiang and Lu Cheng-Ju catch fire, this game may yet be too close for comfort for the Boomers. Australia need to impose their edge in size and athleticism and put this game away as early as possible.