April 14, 2024

Why Gilas Pilipinas should be wary of Cheng Liu, Chinese Taipei in FIBA Asia Cup 2025 Qualifiers

Why Gilas Pilipinas should be wary of Cheng Liu, Chinese Taipei in FIBA Asia Cup 2025 Qualifiers
Cheng Liu erupted for 20 points against New Zealand. | Photo (c) FIBA

With a relatively youthful lineup, Chinese Taipei stayed within striking distance with regional powerhouse New Zealand for the most part of their 2025 FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers matchup on Thursday.

Unfortunately for Chinese Taipei, the Tall Blacks zoomed to a 23-8 fourth quarter behind former PBA imports Ethan Rusbatch and Tom Vodanovich to claim the opening 89-69 win. Both previously suited up for the Converge FiberXers in the Philippines.

A vengeful Taiwan will now vent its ire on Gilas Pilipinas when the two teams meet at the PhilSports Arena on Sunday.

Gametime is set at 7:30pm.

If Chinese Taipei's performance against New Zealand is any indication, the Philippine players will have their work cut out for them in Sunday’s tussle in Pasig City.

Gilas should be wary of a familiar foe in Cheng Liu, who dropped 11 of his total output in the second period when Chinese Taipei outscored New Zealand, 28-23.

All targets will definitely be placed on the back of Liu, 33, who dropped three of his four triples in the same period and ended up with 20 big points for Chinese Taipei.

And rightfully so. In the previous Asia Cup in Jakarta, Liu averaged 17.7 points and led the team to a qualification for the quarterfinals.

While Gilas had Chinese Taipei’s numbers over the years in FIBA tilts, it's only prudent for Filipino dribblers not to succumb to complacency against a feisty opponent, who dropped 10 triples against the Tall Blacks.

Against Hong Kong, Gilas had a sloppy start. Coach Tim Cone later bared they were surprised with the home team's hot shooting that kept it in step with the Filipinos. 

It wasn't until the third quarter, with some help from the Filipino supporters inside the Tsuen Wan Sports Center, that Gilas finally got its bearing going on the way to the 30-point romp against Hong Kong.

[RELATED STORY: Gilas uses strong third-quarter outburst to nip Hong Kong in FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers]


But as this is all part of a process that has the Paris and LA Olympics in mind, the team needs to keep getting better.

“We just got to be better,” said Kevin Quiambao.