Chiba repels Jeremy Lin-less New Taipei, forges EASL finals vs Seoul SK

John Bryan Ulanday - Philstar.com
Chiba repels Jeremy Lin-less New Taipei, forges EASL finals vs Seoul SK
Chiba's Yuki Togashi (2)
East Asia Super League

Games on Sunday
(Hoops Dome, Lapu-Lapu City)
5 p.m. – Anyang vs New Taipei (third place)
8 p.m. – Seoul vs Chiba (finals)

LAPU-LAPU CITY – Undefeated Chiba Jets took flight in the clutch to hold off the New Taipei Kings, 92-84, and arrange a championship showdown with Seoul SK Knights in the East Asia Super League (EASL) Final Four Friday at the Hoops Dome here.

Yuki Togashi, Japan national team captain, erupted for 28 points on six triples and five assists that included five points in the last three minutes as the Jets extended their unbeaten run to seven games.

Chiba, which swept Group A to enter the semifinals, now has a chance to cap a perfect campaign against the Seoul SK Knights, who ran away with a 94-79 win over Korean rival Anyang in the other semis bracket.

Togashi drew ample support from the Jets imports led by Xavier Cooks with 24 points, 22 rebounds, three steals and six blocks highlighted by the game-sealing block on Austin Day in the waning seconds to preserve their lead.

John Mooney added 22 points and 12 rebounds while Shuta Hara, who drained the go-ahead triple to break an 82-all tie, finished with 13 points and four assists.

“It’s a tough game. We faced a very motivated New Taipei team even without Jeremy Lin. It’s a tough win but the job is not finished as we brace for a very strong Seoul SK team,” said coach John Patrick.

Pouncing on the absence of Lin due to a plantar fasciitis injury, Chiba lived up to its lofty billing and capitalized right away to build a seven-point separation after the first quarter, 32-25.

That would become Chiba’s most comfortable gap all game long as New Taipei refused to fold by giving the Japanese ball club a run for its own money up until the waning minutes.

The Kings even took a 67-66 lead entering the payoff period and looked on verge of pulling away following three straight triples of Joseph Lin, brother of Jeremy for a 78-74 upperhand with six minutes to spare.

But Togashi, together with Hara’s timely hits, took over in a staggering 13-4 rally highlighted by an acrobatic bankshot in the 1:21 mark for an 87-82 lead heading home.

Lin drained five triples for 21 points while Hayden Blankley, Chin-Min Yang and Daye added 17, 16 and 13 points, respectively, to lead the gallant fight of the Kings, who will try to finish at the podium against former champion Anyang.

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