While fans screamed "Beautiful!" "More, more!" or "Faster, faster!" the players darted, passed, and scrambled toward the basket with breathless intensity.
The ball swished through, the whistle squealed, and Taipei's domed stadium vibrated with the near-capacity crowd's explosive delight. Basketball is big in Taiwan.
Every July, Taiwan hosts the "Jones cup," an international tournament established by this country's basketball association in 1977. It honors the late R. William Jones, world-renowed coach and secretary-general of the Federation of International Basketball Association (FIBA).
Dr. Jones passed on Last April, a few years after he presented Taiwan with the actual Jones Cup. A sports official here says other Jones Cup tournaments are held in Europe and Latin America, but Taiwan has "the cup."
The tournament is a popular event for Taiwan. It lasts nearly a month, starting July 1. The tournament includes both men's and women's teams representing 14 nations. Women's basketball is as popular as men's here.
Basketball players, coaches and fans, amateur, professional, past and present agree that this is a great year for Taiwan to be back in world competition.
Taiwan's basketball association hosts the teams, including airfare, first-class hotel accommodations, receptions, and sightseeing -- proof that Taiwan values international competition.
C. Y. Peng, secretary-general of the basketball association here, said a main reason for establishing the tournament was to get Taiwan back into international competition.The country had not been participating in the Olympics, and Taiwan's membership in the FIBA had also been suspended in 1974.
Negotiations for reentering international basketball competition have been going on ever since the 1974 FIBA central board meeting in Puerto Rico, when Taiwan was suspended for refusing to change its name from Republic of China to Taiwan at international games.
In Czechoslavakia on June 8 of this year, the central board decided to reinstate Taiwan's membership if this country's basketball association agreed to certain conditions: to use a different name, flag, emblem, and athem at games both inside and outside Taiwan.
Finally a compromise agreement allowing Taiwan to reenter basketball competition was reached.
On the question of names the basketball association of the People's Republic of China was to be called the "China-Peking Basketball Association" while Taiwan's became the "China-Taipei Basketball Association."
Taiwan also agreed to use other flags, emblems, and anthems at games overseas but was allowed to use its own symbols for gatherings hosted in Taiwan.
Mr. Peng said last April's decision allowing Taiwan to reenter Olympic competition was unrelated to the FIBA compromise. The Olympics decision resulted from a legal suite filed by Taiwan against the International Olympic Committee.
Feelings about future competition with the People's Republic of China are predictably chilly. But national athletic association told a local newspaper it is unavoidable that athletes from Taiwan and the PRC wi ll meet in competition.