It’s been far from an ideal start for the Kaohsiung Truth and they are hoping that a change of calendar will also mean a change of fate for the team in the remaining 17 games.
“Season’s Greeting” is a six-part article where I took a brief look at each ABL team in the 2016 while also taking a shot at projecting their fate in 2017. I’ll try to keep it as lightheaded as I can.
The Kaohsiung Truth came into the ASEAN Basketball League with must anticipation. Taiwan is known to be quite a hotbed for basketball talent and it was expected that they would be able to form a highly competitive team.
They were the earliest of all teams to officially announce their participation in this season and released an initial roster that was projected to be a scary starting 5 of James Tyler, Sabatino Chen, Wes Hsu, Carlos Andrade, and Chris Oliver.
By the time the season started, Chen had suffered an injury and Tyler backed out for family reasons.
After 4 games and 4 losses, the Truth were thankful that 2016 was over so they could regroup and start again.
What we know from 2016: Kaohsiung Truth
- Wesley can Hsu-oot
(If you really must know, “Hsu” is pronounced “SHOE” and not “SUE”. I don’t know why. Don’t ask me.)
Let’s start with something positive. Wesley Hsu can really really shoot the ball. Over the course of 4 games, he’s leading the league in three point shoots made (14) by making 45.2% of those threes. For comparison’s sake, Matthew Wright (arguably ABL’s best shooter of all-time) also made 14 threes in his first 4 games at 41.2%. I’m not saying that Hsu is Wright, but I am saying that he’s a really good shooter.
Here’s one stupid bold prediction for the road: with the limited options that the Truth have so far, Hsu will go on to break Wright’s single season ABL three-point shots made record (85).
- The ABL is a Point Guard league
While the ABL is a league that is usually dominated by big imports, you can’t be successful without a really good point guard that can steadily bring up the ball and set up the offense. The Dragons had Jason Brickman last season. Hitech Bangkok City had Jerick Canada the season before. Both were Finals MVP.
Kaohsiung learned this fact the hard way and are still figure out how to fill that gap. I suppose that Chen might have been able to shoulder the ball-handling duties, IF HE WASN’T INJURED.
Kaohsiung tried to fill that in by signing Commentator-turned-ASEAN-Import (STORY OF THE YEAR) Mikee Reyes for a one day contract and while he had a decent debut, it wasn’t enough. The next game, they got Achie Inigo (in a package deal with Raymar Jose) who had a solid 8 assists and 0 turnovers despite a loss.
- Rain on Me
The lack of a steady point guard is obvious (18.8 Turnovers per game to lead the League), but it’s not just that. Kaohsiung’s other glaring weakness is their inability to stop wing players. Marcus Elliott (28), Tyler Lamb (23), Siu Wing Chan (19), Lawrence Domingo (21), and Bobby Ray Parks (41) have all scored their season high on the Truth. They also average a league-low 2.5 steals per game. It’s still only a few games in the season, but it’s a point worth pointing out.
Their main wing players are Wesley Hsu and Chris Oliver, but since Oliver has the natural strength to hold off the opposing teams inside player, Carlos Andrade is then shifted to guard the other wing.
Hsu is an awesome shooter… but his defense is still sketchy and it would be better if the Truth were able to have someone to help him out. Andrade is not exactly fit for that role yet, as he still seems to be a step slower than the offense.
What we can expect for in 2017: KAOHSIUNG TRUTH
- No Way Jose
Raymar Jose’s debut was promising… but it didnt’ leave a strong impression. 12 points and 7 rebounds is nice, but he was hounded by foul trouble. Jose barely stood on the court for lengths of time before evnetually fouling out.
My guess is first game jitters.
Jose has proven his quality in the past a member of the FEU Tamaraws in the UAAP (Philippines) and as a member of the Philippines National Team in the SEABA Stankovic Cup. The transition in the forward spot from amatuer (UAAP) to professional ranks (which is dominated by imports) might have taken a heavier toll than expected. He’ll have time to gel with his team mates over the past month and I expect a better performance from Jose in their next game.
In fact, I don’t think Kaohsiung Truth will even be the same team next time we see them. Coach Tryston Lawrence was announced to be relieved of his coaching duties with the Truth and the injured Chen will take over the as interim Head Coach.
I think we can expect a lot of change from the Truth.
Wishlist: Kaohsiung Truth
- Raymar Jose emerges as the potential top pick in the PBA Draft
- Derek Hall bulked up from all of the Christmas feasts and meals but doesn’t lose his speed and agility
- Jun Quon Lo suddenly grows by 5 inches
- Doug Creighton
- Benjamin Chung
- Miracle instant recovery for Sabatino Chen
New Years Resolution: Kaohsiung Truth
- Get more than 2 wins (avoid being in the same category as MX3 Kings and Laskar Dreya)
- Make sure Wesley Hsu breaks at least one three-point shooting record this season
- Post “You can’t handle the Truth” on all social media accounts after first win
Conclusion: Kaohsiung Truth
It would seem like the Truth have no way to go but up from now on, but I want to be careful about what I say. You never really know how low you can go until you are already back up on the surface. And even then you can’t be completely sure because you’re too busy being grateful for being back up at the top.
…but it still looks like the Truth can only get better from here on out. Jose should be the real deal.
Whatever the case, the Truth doesn’t look like they have given up all hope. Which is the right thing to do. It’s only been 4 games. At worst, they take this season as a learning experience and come back stronger next year.
Not everyone can expect instant success as a professional team. No one is an exception.
Kaohsiung will be starting off the calendar year with a back-to-back stretch at home against the Saigon Heat on the 7th and Alab Pilipinas on the 8th. Seems like a perfect situation for them as the Saigon Heat are struggling with injuries and signing local players. This should be their best chance at a confidence booster before they match up against a new-look Alab Pilipinas.
Hey, at least they haven’t lost 17 straight games like Laskar Dreya!
Check out the articles for the other teams here: