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TOKUSHIMA (FIBA Asia Championship) - Strong contenders Korea scored a couple of brownie points in a tactically tight 85-70 win against East Asian rivals Chinese Taipei in Group 'D' on Sunday.
"Beating a strong team like Taipei is always a welcome morale-booster," Korean coach Choi Bu Yung said.
Leading the Korean charge on the day was center Ha Seung-Jin. The 221cm Milwaukee Bucks star was forced out, after collecting five personal fouls midway through the final quarter. But by then 21-year-old had done enough -- a game-high 25 points along with seven rebounds - to leave the Taipei ranks in a disarray.
"Of course, a player like Ha makes a huge difference," lamented Taipei coach of Korean origin, Chung Kwak-Suk.
"We knew they would come at us strong. That's the reason we went on the attack from the word go," Yung said. "I was pleasantly surprised they let us get away so much ahead and so early in the game," he added, talking of the 25-14 edge Korea gained in the first five minutes.
"It was always going to be difficult to catch up," said Kwak-Suk. "I'm actually proud my boys made a gallant attempt in that." Taipei notched slender advantages of 19-17 and 20-19 in the second and final quarters, but the early advantage combined with 24-17 gap Korea opened in the third quarter, made Taipei's task that much tougher.
Taipei need to beat Hong Kong on Monday to remain in contention for the Championship.
Korea 85 (Ha Seung-Jin 25, Yang Dong-Geun 13, Shin Ki-Sung 11) bt Chinese Taipei 70 (Wu Tai-Ho 20, Chen Hsin-An 13, Shin Ki-Sung 11). Quarterwise: 25-14, 44-33, 66-50.