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Basketball, baseball continue in Taiwan

Baseball games are taking place behind closed doors in Taiwan. (AFP)

By JONAS TERRADO

 

 

 

 

Baseball games are taking place behind closed doors in Taiwan. (AFP)
Baseball games are taking place behind closed doors in Taiwan. (AFP)

While the Philippines and the rest of the world grapple with life without sports due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Taiwan is filling that void in some way by continuing to stage its basketball and baseball leagues.

The Super Basketball League recently began its best-of-seven championship series while the Chinese Professional Baseball League opened its season last Sunday.

Chih Hung Chen, a Taiwanese sportswriter who has been in the Philippines multiple times covering FIBA tournaments, said his country’s serious measures in trying to contain the virus has allowed local leagues to continue.

“I think the major reason is SARS,” said Chen, referring to the SARS outbreak in 2003 that saw 73 deaths and 346 cases. “SARS was very serious in Taiwan so we don’t ignore the COVID-19 virus.”

Taiwan only has 426 cases and six deaths as of Thursday, earning praises worldwide for its measures while also allowing the SBL and CPBL to proceed their season.

There’s a catch, however, for both leagues as the country’s ban on mass gatherings have forced them to hold games in empty venues. The CPBL tried to be creative, however, by putting robot fans in the stands.

One CPBL game saw the benches clear during the Rakuten Monkeys and Fubon Guardians after pitcher Henry Sosa drilled Kuo Yen-Wen.

The SBL, meanwhile, is playing its ongoing title series between Yulon Luxgen and Taiwan Beer at a small venue in New Taipei City. Yulon took the best-of-seven opener recently, 88-83.

Rising interest in seeing the title series have prompted FIBA to forge a partnership to allow the series to be aired live on YouTube beginning with the second game being played at presstime.

Chen believes Yulon has the advantage over Taiwan Beer due to the presence of Indian center Sim Bhullar, who had a brief appearance with the Sacramento Kings in 2015.

Bhullar had six points and 13 rebounds while national team while Cheng Ju Lu, who played for Taiwan when it beat host Gilas Pilipinas in the 2013 FIBA Asia Championship group stage at the Mall of Asia Arena, topscored with 32 points.

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