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Basketball - 06. June 2007.

KOR/TPE - Korea win grudge match over Taipei

I With the encounter evenly poised, Korean coach Yoo Soo Jong made a crucial change in his defense pattern that not only shut down the scoring opportunities for the rivals, but also smoothened the passage for his own team.

Playing a pivotal role in the Korean campaign was Ha Eun Joo. The 202-cm tall centre, playing her maiden international for the National team, utilized the opportunity to steer her side towards the Beijing Olympic berth. Ha's towering presence under the rival ring set a cat among the defense pigeons, thereby opening the gates for Beon Yeon-Ha's scintillating perimeter shooting.

Skipper Sun Min Jung (eight rebounds and nine assists) chose to capitalize on the form of these two players. And by the time former Seattle Storm left the court - ejected for five personal fouls - with 2:07 left on the clock, the trio had done their duty for their team with clinical precision.

"Our fast breaks were not working out the way we wanted. So I had to change the defense pattern," Korean coach Yoo Soo Jong said. "Also we decided to use Ha's height to ward off the blocks for our outside shooting," he added.

"There was no way we were going to let them get away again," said Yoo recollecting the 73-80 defeat Korea had suffered at the hands of Taipei at the 2006 Doha Asian Games, the last time the two met.

For Ha, of course, it was an opportunity to prove the faith reposed in her. "I was a little nervous when I got in, this being the first match with the National team. But once I got into the rhythm I was very comfortable," she added.

Taipei, on the other hand, seemed to continue where they had left at Doha. At least in the initial stages of Monday's game. Liu Chun Yi and Chiang Feng Chun were as fluent as expected, but the others struggled against Ha.

Taipei coach Lin Hun Ling-Yao admitted that her team found it hard to get past Ha. "It was not easy at all considering her height. Also I must confess we got a little complacent once we got into the lead," she said.

"But we are not going to worry too much. Because this is only a preliminary game. We still have the semifinals," she exuded confidence that made light of the defeat.

Korea 74 (Beon Yeon-Ha 20, Ha Eun Joo 19, Park Eung Jun 14) bt Chinese Taipei 65 (Liu Chun Yi 18, Chiang Feng Chun 12) (Quarterwise: 16-19, 37-35, 58-48)

S Mageshwaran
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