Basketball fans welcomed back Quincy Davis, one of the country's biggest basketball stars, with their loudest cheers of the night as he helped his new team in the P. LEAGUE+ to victory at Xinzhuang Gymnasium in New Taipei on Saturday.
A naturalized citizen of Taiwan, Davis is considered a national hero for some of his past national team exploits, and his first appearance for the expansion New Taipei Kings after missing the team's first six games with injury did not disappoint.
He played only 17 1/2 minutes, but still managed eight points, 10 rebounds, two assists, and one block in the Kings' 101-90 over Davis' former team, the Taoyuan Pilots, and the fans were clearly in his corner.
He received a huge ovation when he was introduced before the game, and drew the loudest cheers of any player whenever he drained a shot.
But facing his former team, part of the Taoyuan Pauian Archiland organization for which he played from 2011 to 2021, Davis had to get used to the change in scenery.
"It's a little bit weird playing against my former team. I think at one point in the game I said 'let's go Pilots.' I caught myself, but it's something you get used to," Davis said after the game.
The 203cm center last played a competitive game in May with the Pilots, formed in 2020 for the P.LEAGUE+'s inaugural season, during the playoffs, and he admitted he was still adjusting to the Kings' style of play.
"It has been a long time since I played, but I'm not too far removed from the rest of the guys," said the 38-year-old Davis, who joked about his age in dispelling the idea that he may have been away for too long to continue playing.
"I did play in the playoffs, so stop trying to make it seem like I'm old," he said with a smile.
Kings' general manager James Mao (???) told CNA on Monday that the team would initially limit Davis's playing time, however, to allow his body to get used to playing full speed again, reflected in the 17 minutes he played Saturday.
Davis said he had no problem with the move.
"Being a professional player and you love the game, you would want to play as many minutes as possible, but I'm working with trainers and the coaches, the whole staff, and everybody's cautious of how many minutes I play. I don't really worry about it," he said.
"If they think I need to sub out, it's going to be their suggestion and I'm going to trust their judgment."
Davis entered the game for the first time in the second quarter to loud cheers and applause, and quickly grabbed an offensive rebound and scored a double pump fake putback just 15 seconds after the starting whistle.
The Pilots, however, rallied after trailing 26-16 at the end of the first quarter to tie the game at 31. Former NBA forward Chris McCullough, who ended up with 25 points and 10 rebounds, responded with some clutch play to put the Kings up 51-41 at halftime.
That lead dwindled to 72-67 after three quarters, but Davis returned in the final quarter to contribute six points, eight rebounds to power the Kings to victory in a triumphant return.
Davis first came to Taiwan in 2011 to play in the local Super Basketball League (SBL). After helping his team clinch its first championship title in 2012 and being named Most Valuable Player, the 203-centimeter player was given the chance to join Taiwan's national team.
The offer prompted him to renounce his U.S. citizenship and obtain Republic of China citizenship in 2013.
He has since become a household name in Taiwan, playing a major role in lifting the international competitiveness of Taiwanese basketball,with his biggest moment coming in the 2013 FIBA Asia Championship.
Davis spearheaded the national team's most notable international victory in the past two decades when he scored 26 points on 12-13 shooting from the floor and pulled down 11 rebounds in a stunning 96-78 drubbing of China in the tournament's quarterfinals.
Davis' clinical display helped put Taiwan's name back on Asia's basketball map as it finished in the top four in the prestigious tournament for the first time since the turn of the millennium.
The Kings' victory improved their record to 4-3 and moved them into a second place tie in the six-team league. They will next face the Taipei Fubon Braves at Xinzhuang Gymnasium in New Taipei on Sunday.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel