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Can the N.B.A. Learn From Taiwan’s Basketball Bubble?

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“The only noise is from your teammates,” Garcia said. “I don’t even drink Red Bull, but I’m drinking Red Bull now before a game to find energy. When I get a dunk, you want to scream, but you can’t. It’s pointless. So I just run back on defense.”

After stops in far-flung leagues as disparate as Bahrain, Iceland and the Philippines, Garcia appeared to have found a home in Taiwan. He began this season with the Fubon Braves alongside the N.B.A. veteran O.J. Mayo in the ASEAN League, which culled its 10 teams from eight countries. Garcia, a 6-foot-10, 240-pound forward, then joined Pauian within a week of the ASEAN League’s shutdown in March and quickly helped Metcalf’s team assemble a five-game winning streak.

Garcia’s season, though, turned tragic on Wednesday when his father, Charles Sr., died of kidney failure at 59. The news reached Garcia in the midst of a two-game suspension for a recent scuffle with the 7-foot-5 Sim Bhullar, who briefly played in the N.B.A. with the Sacramento Kings and began the season as a teammate alongside Garcia and Mayo with the Braves. Rather than make his expected return to the lineup on Friday against JeouTai and the league’s No. 2 scorer Franklin Session of Cal State Los Angeles, Garcia flew back home to California.

Pauian has also lost its best outside shooter and sixth man — Lee Chi-Wei from the Taiwanese national team — to a broken hand. Since it is too late, according to league rules, to replace Garcia on the roster with another import, Metcalf experimented with some new rotations during the Bank of Taiwan loss, searching for combinations to compensate for all the offense he has lost.

Born in Japan when his father was stationed there in the Navy, Metcalf has also lived in England and Turkey and moved to Taiwan in 2007 in hopes of learning Mandarin after working under five coaches in four N.B.A. seasons with the Magic. He initially planned to stay for “a couple years” but never left, marrying a Taiwan native and landing the Pauian job at age 33.

“This game takes us some strange places,” Metcalf said.

With his 5-month-old son asleep, Metcalf then excused himself to take advantage of the quiet in the house to resume watching game film. One of coaching’s least glamorous pastimes, in these coronavirus times, is suddenly a privilege.

“Always a video guy at heart,” he said.


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