It’s the beginning of what should be a long and storied rivalry between two proud teams. For the first time in history, the Formosa Dreamers will take on the Taipei Fubon Braves in the elimination round of the ASEAN Basketball League’s 10th Season.
The Dreamers were a force to be reckoned with last season as they topped the elimination round with a 19-7 win-loss tally. Although they ended up losing in the quarterfinals, it was the most impressive turnaround in ABL history as they finished dead last during their debut season with only a single win in 20 games.
The Braves are showing no signs of early troubles as the newest team in the ABL hit the ground running as they are currently second in the team standings with three victories against two losses. Formosa, on the other end, is still looking for their first win of the season in their third game.
The Dreamers were in a good spot to pick up a victory in their last game against the Macau Black Bears as they led by as many as 17 points in the fourth quarter. However, things quickly turned sour for Formosa even if they were playing on their home-court as Macau outscored them 32-12 in the final period to turn the game on its head. The Dreamers could only blame themselves as they committed seven of their 23 turnovers in the final period, which allowed Macau to sneak their way back into the game and steal it in the end.
Marcus Keane was the top performer for Formosa with a triple-double of 28 points, 10 rebounds, and 12 assists but even his tremendous all-around performance was not enough to give them a win. It’s not on Keane to do more as he will have to get some help from his teammates, especially from their bench for a better shot at winning.
Jerran Young continues to provide the energy for Formosa as he has been their extra possessions guy. He had 17 points and 12 rebounds against the Black Bears but the most impressive stat he had in the game was getting five blocks.
Young had to work double-time as their big man import Liam McMorrow fouled out of the game for the second straight time. Even though he was disqualified late in the game, being in foul trouble limits his effectivity on defense, which is what Formosa needs from him. He’ll have to find a way to keep it clear and defend without fouling, more so against the Braves who are sporting a taller frontline as compared to the Black Bears.
Another facet of the contest that Formosa needs to focus on is the scoring of their locals. Only the veteran Yang Chin Min got a decent amount of touches against the Black Bears and he certainly did his damage with 21 points anchored on five triples.
The Dreamers will welcome the challenge of the Braves who are currently oozing with confidence after taking down a couple of solid teams in their home-stand. They first defeated the Black Bears and then double-down against Hong Kong Eastern in their back-to-back. The most important lesson for Fubon was how to save their energy for the second game of their back-to-back as they learned their lesson from losing to the Kuala Lumpur Dragons. They used a different starting unit and played their minutes differently, which worked wonders for them as they looked like a fresh team, thanks largely to the contributions of their second unit.
OJ Mayo led their attack as he torched the net from downtown for a total of 13 triples during that weekend. He shot the ball so well that he was given the Player of the Week honors.
However, Fubon is not just about Mayo. They’ve stacked their lineup in a way that they can choose not to rely too heavily on the former NBA player. To start, they also have a couple of bull-strong big men in Charles Garcia and Sim Bhullar who have been shooting tremendously from the field.
Fubon also has two deadly scorers from their local unit in Lin Chih Chieh and Tsai Wen Cheng. This starting duo norms better than 23 points, eight rebounds, and six assists per game and both of them have the capability to explode for more at any given game.
Two highly combustible elements will be put together as Formosa faces off against Fubon. It’s a battle for pride as whoever gets the first win will get to keep the bragging rights until they meet again. It’s also a battle for supremacy as Formosa wants to make a statement against the new-coming Braves, with the ABL rookie squad wanting to claim the accolade of being the top Chinese Taipei team this early.