The New Taipei CTBC DEA collected their sixth consecutive win after topping the visiting Taichung Suns 96-88 on Saturday, to widen their lead at the top of the T1 LEAGUE standings.
The DEA improved to 15-4 at the top of the six-team league standings, while the Suns dropped 6-13, picking up their fourth loss in a row and sitting in fifth place, nine games behind the New Taipei team.
Suns shooting guard Rayvonte Rice led all scorers with a double-double of 29 points, 14 rebounds, three assists and four steals, while DEA forward Nicholas King led his team with 27 points, nine rebounds, six assists and two steals.
At the post-game press conference, King commended the group effort and energy of his team for the win.
"It all started as a team, we started on the defensive end and the defense just led to offense, and that's what we need to make it to the championship and lock in towards the end of the season," King said.
During the game on Saturday, the Suns started off cold as the DEA used their homecourt advantage to speed ahead, leading at the end of the first quarter 28-12.
The Suns continued to struggle in the second quarter, unable to make crucial baskets, while sometimes making unforced turnovers, allowing the DEA to build up an 18-point 50-32 lead at half time.
After the break, the Suns rallied in the third quarter, improving their accuracy and putting defensive pressure on the DEA, cutting the deficit to 10-points at 72-62.
Stepping up their defensive pressure, the Suns trailed by eight points 72-64 after a two-point shot by Rice close to two minutes into the fourth quarter.
Two more three-throws and a three-pointer by Suns shooting guard Lu Kuan-hsuan (???) brought the score to just one possession 72-69 with around 9:44 on the clock.
However, the DEA surged again, stretching their lead to 80-71, which prompted the Suns to call a timeout with close to seven minutes left in the game.
The Suns rallied again, this time stepping up their offense and grabbing offensive rebounds to trail by only four points 89-85 at the 3:12 mark.
However, under pressure, the DEA were able to increase their lead again, this time taking the score to 96-88 and nearly out of reach with 36 seconds left until the final buzzer.
With the Suns unable to connect their shots due to tough defending, the DEA held onto possession running down the clock for the win.
Aquas lose to GhostHawks
Also, in the T1 LEAGUE on Saturday, the defending champions, the Kaohsiung Aquas collected their fifth consecutive loss after suffering a 107-100 defeat to the Tainan TSG GhostHawks at Chia Nan University of Pharmacy and Science Shao Tsung Gymnasium.
GhostHawks center Robert Upshaw III led all scorers with 27 points, 18 rebounds, five assists, one steal and one block, while Aquas playmaker Jason Brickman led his team with 21 points, four rebounds, seven dimes and two steals.
With the latest defeat, the Aquas dropped to 11-10, sitting third place in the league rankings, five games behind the DEA, while the 12-8 GhostHawks collected their fourth consecutive win to place second, 3.5 games behind the DEA.
Kings edge Pilots
Meanwhile, in Taiwan's other professional basketball league, the P. LEAGUE+, the New Taipei Kings edged the Taoyuan Pauian Pilots 98-95 at Taoyuan Arena on Saturday.
Kings center Byron Mullens posted 29 points, 19 rebounds, four assists, one steal and three blocks.
The Kings, at the top of the six-team league standings, picked up their fifth consecutive win to improve to 18-5, while the 15-9 Pilots are now tied in third place with back-to-back defending champions the Taipei Fubon Braves. The Pilots and the Braves are both 3.5 games behind the Kings.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel