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Sports

Will Lin play against Gilas?

SPORTING CHANCE - Joaquin M. Henson - The Philippine Star
Will Lin play against Gilas?
This file photo taken on August 4, 2020 shows Beijing Ducks' Jeremy Lin driving the ball during the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) match between Beijing Ducks and Guangdong Southern Tigers in Qingdao in China's eastern Shandong province.
STR / AFP

Nine-year NBA veteran Jeremy Lin is eligible to play for Chinese-Taipei against Gilas in the FIBA Asia Cup qualifying window game at the PhilSports Arena on Feb. 25. He could suit up as a naturalized “import,” having acquired a Taiwan passport in August 2020 or as a local if FIBA grants an exception like it did with Indonesian-American Brandon Jawato.

Lin, 35, has never played for the Taiwan national squad and began his career in the local P.League+ (known as Plus League) with the Kaohsiung Steelers last year. Before moving to the Plus League, Lin saw action for Harvard University, eight teams in nine NBA seasons, Santa Cruz Warriors in the NBA G-League and two teams in three Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) campaigns.

Now, Lin is playing for the New Taipei Kings and he’ll be in Cebu for the EASL Final Four next month. In a recent interview posted in the Focus Taiwan app, Lin revealed he’s married to a Filipina although no name was disclosed. Lin wore a shirt with Manila inscribed in front before the Kings’ EASL game against Meralco in Taiwan and said it’s branded by Filipino-American singer-songwriter AJ Rafael who’s his friend. “My wife is a Filipina so for me, this is very meaningful,” said Lin, quoted by Focus Taiwan.

In last year’s Asian Games, Chinese-Taipei placed fourth, losing to China in the semis, 101-73. The five leading Chinese-Taipei scorers were 6-4 Liu Cheng, 33 (played only one game against Hong Kong, scoring 18 points), 6-4 Benson Lin, 24 (15.4 points), 6-11 Will Artino, 31 (14.1 points, 10 rebounds), 6-2 Mohammad Gadiaga, 25 (13.9 points) and 6-4 Liu Chengxun, 30 (8.7 points, 5.8 rebounds).

Benson plays in the CBA and went to high schoßol in Kentucky and Rhode Island before suiting up a year at Bryant University. Artino was issued a Taiwan passport in 2021 and is a naturalized import. The Creighton University center has seen action in Estonia, Denmark, Cyprus, Malaysia, Bahrain, Mexico and Uruguay. Gadiaga is of Senegalese descent, was born in Japan and attended high school and college in Taiwan. Hes allowed to play as a local presumably because of his educational roots and long-time residency in Taiwan.

If Lin is classified as a local, he’ll be a huge addition to the national squad. That would also mean his brother Joseph could join the team as a local if he has a Taiwan passport. If Lin is recognized as a naturalized import, he’ll displace Artino who’s 6-11 since FIBA allows only one per team. Without Artino, Chinese-Taipei will rely on 6-9 Tseng Wen Ting, 39, and 6-9 Tseng Hsiang Chun, 25, for center chores. Tseng Wen Ting has been a national team fixture since 2001 and is known to Filipino fans as “Long Hair.” SBP executive director Erika Dy said Taiwan hasn’t released its national team lineup yet so there’s no telling at this point if Lin will play or not.

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