NAGANO – Quincy Davis III does not rush on the basketball court. In fact he could be unkindly described as slow, but against South Korea in the final of the East Asia championship on Wednesday, his composed play was vital to Taiwan’s 77-64 win.
Davis finished the final in Nagano’s White Ring with a line of 21 points and 13 rebounds, but it may be the towering U.S.-born center’s calming presence that was his biggest contribution to his team’s title, Taiwan’s first in the tournament’s history.
“It’s always calming to see a big presence in the post to help defend, and that’s what I’m here for — to be a big guy and to give them a sense of security down there in the paint,” said Davis who averaged an 18.5-point, 10.5-rebound double-double across the tournament.
“We just kind of didn’t get into a rhythm until the second and third game (of the tournament) and now the fourth game we were on our feet and playing together.
“It’s a good feeling because it’s the first time that me and a lot of these young guys have played together. This Japanese tournament was great for us to get together and try to build some chemistry and to work together as a team.”
In the final, that sense of team was best demonstrated through Taiwan’s discipline in taking care of the ball — it ended the game with just nine turnovers — and the players’ ability to force the referees into making calls. Taiwan finished with 20 free throws made while South Korea only attempted seven.
A second-quarter run won the game for Taiwan. After a slow start the team built a nine-point lead late that quarter, and it was an advantage the team in blue would never give up.
Cheng Liu gave Davis all the support he needed, finishing with a game-high 23 points, repeatedly shredding the South Korean defense off the dribble and finishing well at the rim.
Three-time East Asia champion South Korea once again lived and, this time, died from behind the 3-point arc. After riding high percentage, high volume shooting all the way to the final, the team saw its outside touch desert it in this game, finishing a combined 7-for-28 from deep.
Heo Il-young was once again South Korea’s most effective player, he shot a sparkling 67 percent from the floor on 12 attempts, including 2-for-4 from 3, to finish with 18 points.
After laying an egg in the semifinal, Japan came out intent on making amends in the playoff against China for third place.
Japan very quickly put on a burst that put it up double digits, and the Japanese led by 17 at the end of the first quarter. From there, Japan just maintained the gap against its young opponents to claim third place with a 76-58 win.
Japan’s Ira Brown had his best game of the tournament with a team-high 21 points and 11 rebounds, while interim coach Luka Pavicevic, in his final game in charge, managed the minutes to ensure balanced scoring across the rest of the roster.
Brown said there was a sense of relief that the team was able to put its terrible semifinal performance behind it.
“This is our home, we really wanted to do our best to protect it. Unfortunately, (Taiwan) outplayed us yesterday so we knew that we had to come back and play much harder today to go for third place,” he said.
“I know the guys really, really rely on what I can do and I rely on them of course to be good finishers . . . I wanted to really impose my will so that way we can come away with the win without a doubt.”