Kaohsiung Aquas take T1 LEAGUE opener in thriller

Taiwan's new pro basketball T1 LEAGUE got off to a pulsating start Saturday night when the visiting Kaohsiung Aquas rallied in the final minute to edge the Taiwan Beer Herobears 107-106 in a nail-biter in Taipei.

The game at the University of Taipei's Tian-Mu campus gym was the official opener of the six-team league's inaugural season, and the 3,456 fans in attendance, about 80 percent of capacity, were treated to a game of huge momentum swings decided in its final seconds.

The Herobears were up by four with just under 90 seconds left, when the Aquas' Filipino-American guard Jason Brickman nailed a three-pointer to narrow the deficit to 104-103.

A lay-up by Herobears captain Chiang Yu-an widened the lead back to three, but American Ferrakohn Hall pulled the Aquas even at 106 with another bomb from behind the arc.

Then with 10 seconds left, Brickman drew the defense toward him before dishing the ball off to Lithuanian Mindaugas Kupšas, who was fouled while taking a shot. Kupšas sunk the first free-throw but missed the second, giving the Aquas a 107-106 lead.

The Herobears grabbed the rebound but missed a desperation shot just before the buzzer sounded.

American center Diamond Stone of Herobears led all scorers with 44 points and also snagged 13 rebounds.

Meanwhile, Brickman known for his passing and playmaking ability, led the way with eight assists.

Aquas head coach Brendan Joyce, the former head coach of the Australian Opals, said he was happy with the win and how the team's plans came together.

"We talked about having to play to the last possession before the game and it came down to that, so I'm very happy for the players," Joyce said. "It's our first win, but it's only the beginning."

The Herobears actually sped off to a 14-point lead after the first quarter but found themselves down by 10 after a disastrous third quarter in which they only scored 11 points.

Still, they came back and gave themselves a shot to win in the final minutes before the Aquas rallied.

The T1 LEAGUE's second game will tip off on Dec. 4 with the Herobears on the road to go up against the CTBC DEA in New Taipei.

The T1 LEAGUE is one of two professional basketball leagues in Taiwan this year along with the P.LEAGUE+, which tips off Dec. 4 in Taipei.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel