The Kaohsiung Aquas of Taiwan's pro basketball T1 LEAGUE will start 2022 at the top of the standings after edging the visiting TaiwanBeer HeroBears by the slimmest of margins on Friday.
The Aquas improved their record to 5-1 by topping the Herobears 114-113 at Kaohsiung Arena in the league's last game of 2021. The Taipei-based Herobears had a chance to overtake the Aquas atop the six-team league, but instead fell to 4-2 with the loss.
The Kaohsiung club seem poised for a relatively comfortable victory when it opened the fourth quarter with a 91-78 lead, but it had to sweat it out late.
HeroBears forward Chu I-tsung (???) put the Aquas under pressure when he sunk a clutch trey with just under three minutes left to narrow the home side's lead to 108-104.
The Aquas stretched the lead to five when swingman Xavier Alexander sunk a free throw after being fouled under the basket, and after Chu missed a three-pointer, Aquas' center Mindaugas Kupšas scored after converting an offensive rebound to put his team up 111-104.
Herobears captain Chiang Yu-an (???) tried to get his team back in the game when he pocketed three free throws after being fouled at the three-point line, pulling the margin back to four.
But with the Taipei side fouling intentionally to try to get extra possessions, the Aquas simply needed to hit their free throws to keep the Herobears at bay.
Filipino-American playmaker Jason Brickman pushed the lead to six with two free throws, and while Chiang answered with another three-pointer to pull TaiwanBeer to within three at 113-110, a free throw by Aquas forward Hu Long-mao (???) in the last 10 seconds clinched the victory.
Chu responded with a last gasp three-pointer in the final seconds did nothing more than narrow Kaohsiung's final margin of victory.
Brickman posted a double-double with 29 points and 10 assists and also had six rebounds.
The HeroBears' American center Diamond Stone led his side with 29 points and 12 rebounds.
T1 LEAGUE games will continue Saturday, the first day of 2022, with the Taichung Wagor Suns hosting the New Taipei CTBC DEA, and the Tainan TSG GhostHawks hosting the Taoyuan Leopards.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel