Kings at last: New Taipei wins P. LEAGUE+

June 22, 2024

6 mins

Kings at last: New Taipei wins P. LEAGUE+
Kings at last: New Taipei wins P. LEAGUE+

Written by EASL

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New Taipei Kings secure first league title with win over Taoyuan Pauian Pilots

The New Taipei Kings clinched their first-ever P. LEAGUE+ title after defeating the Taoyuan Pauian Pilots 4-1 in the 2023-24 finals series.

Lee Kai-Yan was named the 2024 P. LEAGUE+ Finals Most Valuable Player after averaging 14.2 points in the series.

Both P. LEAGUE+ finalists have qualified for the EASL 2024-25 Season. As champions, the New Taipei Kings are placed into Group B, while runners-up the Taoyuan Pauian Pilots go into Group A, under the preset Group Stage draw.

The journey to the finals

The New Taipei Kings were last season’s runners-up following a defeat to the Taipei Fubon Braves in the 2023 P. LEAGUE+ Finals.

The Kings signed former NBA star Jeremy Lin last offseason to bolster their attack, uniting him in the team with his brother Joseph.

The Kings were hot out of the gate, winning their first nine games in the P. LEAGUE+ and the EASL combined.

However, in late January, uncertainty loomed when Jeremy Lin suffered a plantar fascia injury. Lin was forced to miss 15 of the Kings’ following 16 games, including the EASL Final Four. The Kings secured just four victories in those 16 games, finishing fourth at the Final Four along the way.

Lin returned in April, and the Kings won seven of their final 11 regular season games. They finished with a 22-18 record, seeding third entering the playoffs.

In the P. LEAGUE+ semifinals, New Taipei got strong performances from Lin. He averaged 19.5 points in the series against the Dreamers, helping to eliminate them in six games.

The Taoyuan Pauian Pilots struggled to tip off the 2023-24 season. It wasn’t until February that they found their footing, then recording just four losses in their final 22 games to finish the season with a 26-14 record.

This run secured the team’s first regular-season championship.

The Pilots pulled off another turnaround in the semifinals. They were down 2-1 against the Hsinchu Toplus Lioneers, before rallying off three consecutive victories to advance to their first-ever P. LEAGUE+ finals.

How did the Finals pan out?

Game 1: New Taipei Kings 89-82 Taoyuan Pauian Pilots

As the higher seed, the Pilots gained home-court advantage in the series.

The Kings came out roaring in the series opener, jumping to a 14-point lead in the first quarter.

With an 18-point lead going into the fourth quarter, the Kings’ offense hit a wall, scoring just five points in the final frame.

The Pilots outscored the Kings 16-5 in the fourth quarter, but their comeback fell short and New Taipei took Game 1, 89-82.

Lee Kai-Yan led the way with a game-high 18 points, going 4-for-7 from beyond the arc.

Game 2: New Taipei Kings 70-90 Taoyuan Pauian Pilots

An abysmal second quarter from the Kings allowed the Pilots to tie the series at one.

Entering the second frame with a two-point lead, New Taipei were outscored 27-7 in the quarter, going 2-for-19 from the field.

The Kings missed all 12 of their three-point attempts, and the Pilots enjoyed an 18-point lead going into the half.

The New Taipei Kings never recovered and the Pilots took Game 2, 90-70.

Five players scored in double-figures for Taoyuan, with Lu Chun-Hsiang leading the way with a team-high 18 points.

Game 3: Taoyuan Pauian Pilots 82-83 New Taipei Kings

The Pilots had a 10-point lead after three quarters. But the Kings clawed back in the fourth, outscoring the regular season champions 20-9.

Joseph Lin was the hero. Under 30 ticks to go, Kenny Manigault missed a game-tying dunk. The offensive rebound went to Lin, who sank a go-ahead three to give New Taipei Kings the win.

Lin scored a team-high 15 points. All his points came from beyond the arc, with none bigger than the game-winning three in the dying seconds.

Game 4: Taoyuan Pauian Pilots 82-90 New Taipei Kings

A massive third quarter from the Kings put them a game away from winning it all.

Coming off a one-point lead at halftime, New Taipei outscored Taoyuan by 11 in the third frame to pull themselves ahead for the win.

The Kings relied on their imports in this game. Former NBA first-round pick Austin Daye scored nine of his game-high 28 points in the third. American power forward Wendell Lewis also chipped in 23 points.

Game 5: New Taipei Kings 103-97 Taoyuan Pauian Pilots (OT)

The Kings looked like they had the title in the bag after three quarters, carrying a 13-point lead going into the fourth.

But the Pilots did not want to disappoint their home fans, and outscored the Kings 18-5 in the fourth quarter to send the game into overtime.

In the extra frame, the Kings regained their composure. Up by two early in overtime, Lee Kai-Yan extended the lead with a wide-open corner three to give the Kings a five-point cushion.

The Kings missed only two shots in the entire frame, outscoring the Pilots 18-12 in overtime to win their first P. LEAGUE+ title in franchise history.

Stat of the Series

Three-point shooting was the difference in the finals.

The Kings converted 11.8 threes per game, at 34 percent, while the Pilots averaged just 7.2 treys, at 27 percent.

Finals MVP Lee Kai-Yan led the way, hitting 2.4 threes per contest, a 44 percent rate.

Kyle Lee Kai Yan: 2024 P. LEAGUE+ Finals MVP

Lee Kai-Yan was incredible against the Pilots, on the court for more than 37 minutes per game and playing a leading role in the Kings’ first-ever championship win.

Lee averaged 14.2 points and 4.4 rebounds in the five-game series.

The 5-foot-10 guard provided key stops and also hit 12 threes over the course of the series, including that big one in overtime in the series clincher.

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