NAGANO – Japan flamed out in the East Asia Basketball Association Championship semifinals on Tuesday, falling 78-73 to Taiwan as turnovers and an anemic offensive performance left the hosts looking for somewhere to hide in Nagano.
Taiwan’s Quincy Davis III proved too much for Japan’s frontline to handle as the U.S.-born veteran scored 28 points, 18 in the first half, while the hosts failed to muster any sort of consistent play on either end of the court.
Earlier, South Korea won a 106-104 thriller against China to set up a final matchup with Taiwan, Jeon Jun-beom playing hero by hitting a pull-up jumper with 4 seconds left in overtime.
Japan fell in a 10-point hole in the first quarter as poor shooting and Davis’ 14-point first period put the hosts on the back foot. The 203-cm veteran proved a handful as he dominated in the paint, going 7-for-12 mostly from point-blank range in the first period.
The pain continued for Japan in the second quarter as turnovers and poor shooting led to a 14-point deficit at halftime.
Japan shot 29 percent from the floor in the first two periods while being dominated on the boards (30-16).
Japan interim coach Luka Pavicevic inserted big man Kosuke Takeuchi into the lineup to start the third, likely hoping to slow Davis III and turn the tide, but not long after, point guard Yuki Togashi limped off the court with a lower-leg injury.
Makoto Hiejima, who finished with a team-high 20 points, and Ira Brown keyed a third-quarter run that cut the deficit to eight going into the last period. A couple of athletic defensive plays from up-and-comer Yudai Baba also helping turn the tide.
Japan cut the lead to five at the start of the fourth, but another flurry of turnovers allowed Taiwan to establish an insurmountable lead.
China brought a young squad to the tournament — with an average age of just 18 — but it was South Korea that cracked under pressure in their semifinal, giving up a nine-point lead in the final 92 seconds of regulation. And things did not get much better in overtime, with the Korean’s needing a moment of fortitude from Jeon to pull out the win.
Faced with a Chinese team playing a paint-packing zone defense for large periods of the game, the Koreans were forced to shoot from the outside, and that they did, taking 35 shots from beyondthe arc and converting 54.3 percent of them.
Jeon, Heo Il-young and Doo Kyung-min did the most damage, shooting a combined 16-for-26 from long range, with Heo finishing with a game-high 22 points.
China was led by Sun Minghui’s 28-point, seven-assist, five-rebound effort. Hu Jinqiu chipped in with 17 points and 18 rebounds.