Preview: Final Call for either Guam or Chinese Taipei

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MANGILAO (Guam) - The last qualifying spot for FIBA Asia Cup 2021. That’s what will be up for grabs in Mangilao, Guam.

It will be a battle between Guam and Chinese Taipei for the rights to advance and book a ticket to Jakarta. These two teams will play in a two-game series where the winner is decided by aggregate score. The series will be won by the team that either wins both games or has scored the most amount of points combined across both contests.

How do these teams stack up heading into this decisive duel?

Chinese Taipei

It was a rough run in the Asia Cup Qualifiers bubble in Clark for Chinese Taipei as they had to play Japan and Chinese for a total of 4 games. The young Chinese Taipei squad had some promising moments, but it wasn’t eough to avoid a third place finish in Group B.

Now they’ll get another chance at qualifying for the Asia Cup, but it won’t be easy. They’ll be facing a formidable foe who will be just as hungry to claim this final spot.

What’s at stake

There are only 8 national team programs that have played in over 20 Asia Cups and Chinese Taipei are one of them. Moreover, they have been in 17 straight Asia Cups as well, dating all the way back to 1985.

Whether that streak will continue - or whether it will come to an end - will be decided in these next two games.

Player to Watch: Chen Ying-Chun

Chen is the cornerstone of Chinese Taipei basketball’s future and was sorely missed when the team played in Clark for the Qualifiers bubble. The 28-year-old point guard has been consistently putting up around 13 points, 5 rebounds, and 3 assists per game ever since the World Cup 2019 Asian Qualifiers up to this point.

Now with Asia Cup Qualification - and to an extent, World Cup Qualification - on the line, Chinese Taipei might need just a bit more from their floor general.


Guam have been one of the hottest teams throughout the entire Asia Cup qualification process and now they’re knocking on the door of advancing to that final stage. They play at a breakneck pace and have been one of the highest scoring teams in the Qualifiers at 109.3 points per game.

That’s what the home crowd at Mangilao with be expecting to see in these next two games - hopefully along with seeing their team win and qualify.

What’s at stake

Guam have never qualified to play in the Asia Cup… yet.

That’s what they’ll be aiming to accomplish at the end of these next two games. They’ve blazed through the competition since the Pre-Qualifiers and held their own against New Zealand, but these two games are what it’s all about.

Player to Watch: Daren Hechanova

There are a lot of talented players in Guam’s roster, but there aren’t many that are as entertaining as Hechanova. The 1.90M (6’3”) guard plays with intensity on both ends of the floor, which always gets his team fired up.

He hasn’t been a big time scorer (4.0 points per game) so far in the Qualifiers, but has been highly productive doing everything else from rebounding (7.7 per game) to passing the ball (5.7 assists per game).


Jericho Cruz-less Guam stuns Chinese Taipei, nears Fiba Asia Cup spot

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TAKUMI Simon played the role of the hero for Guam, scoring the home team’s last six points as it stunned Chinese Taipei, 77-72, in the 2021 Fiba Asia Cup qualifiers Thursday at UOG Calvo Fieldhouse in Mangilao.

Guam vs Chinese Taipei recap

Playing without Jericho Cruz and Curtis Washington, it was Simon, the 21-year-old guard out of Santa Clara University, who stepped up to the plate as the Guamanians inched closer to clinching its first-ever stint in the continental showpiece.

Simon fired 18 points on 4-of-6 shooting from deep, including the big plays in the final minute as Guam held a precarious 71-70 lead.

He first made a pullup jumper that extended the lead to three, before he drained a big trey with 37 seconds left that made it a 76-72 affair with 37 seconds left.

Ray Chen tried to cut the deficit but missed a three, that led to a Simon split from the line to stretch the lead to five in the last 18 ticks.

Continue reading below ↓

Lin Wei-han, Lee Chi-wei, and Kevin Hu still had cracks late, but their long bombs could not find the bottom of the net.

Veteran Tai Wesley paced Guam with 23 points, nine rebounds, and three assists, as Jonathan Galloway had a double-double of 12 points and 16 boards in the win.

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Guam can formally clinch the seat in the second game of this two-leg series with a win on Saturday. It can still advance as long as it won’t lose by more than five points.

Chen carried the fight for Chinese Taipei with 24 points built on four triples, to go with four rebounds, three assists, and three steals, as Benson Lin added 22 points and five steals in the tough loss.

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Team Guam locked-in for game this weekend against Chinese Taipei

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Point guard Deren Hechanova said, “Playing at home is a big advantage. It’s always an honor and blessing to play in front of the home crowd and represent the island of Guam. It’s very special when we get to play at home. This is the farthest that Guam has ever got for basketball so we’re making history right now. Like I said we keep on doing good as we should we’ll be on the ranks up.”