FORMER Soviet state Kazakhstan made their long-awaited debut in the Hongkong International Invitation tournament and put up a strong fight before losing to South Korea's Jin Ju Ham team 32-26 in an action-packed women's game. Jin Ju Ham, winners of the South Korean winter league, are favourites for the Hongkong title as their national squad are the world champions and also the 1992 Olympic Games gold medallists. They have three national squad players - Han Sun-hee, Kim Mi-sim and Lee Sang-eun - and two junior internationals in their line-up. Han was a member of the Barcelona Olympic team. Kong Seung-mi took little time to open the Koreans' scoring account but Kazakhstan goalkeeper Aksenova made several brilliant saves, including stopping a penalty by Han, before Buzmakova levelled the tally in the fourth minute. The two teams were never separated by more than three points in the first half during which the scores were levelled seven times, and the two sides were locked at 15-15 at half-time. But the more balanced South Korean outfit pulled away from 18-all six minutes into the second half with goals by Shim Myoung-ho and stalwarts Lee and Kim and never looked back, pulling away to win by a six-point margin. Lee was Jin Ju Ham's top scorer with eight points while national squad teammate Kim scored six. But highest scorer in the match was the towering 1.8-metre tall Buzmakova, who scored nine goals for Kazakhstan. Taiwan overcame stiff early resistance from the youthful Yintai city team from China's Shandong province before winning 24-16 in the other women's game. Yintai, whose players are mostly in their mid-teens, made up for their lack of experience with their abundance of energy and they gave away little space in defence. They were only 9-10 down at the interval but an early second-half goal by Lin Pei-ling and another two scores by Chao Wen-yu put Taiwan on the road to victory. In the men's competition, China's Tienjin team defeated Taiwan 33-25 after leading 15-11 at half-time and a South Korean university outfit crushed Hongkong 39-11 in the two men's matches. Hongkong, late entries into the event when independent state Uzbekistan withdrew because the local handball association would not pay for their passage, were hopelessly outclassed by their opponents. The Koreans took a commanding 21-3 half-time lead and only four penalty conversions by Sing Chi-fai made it possible for Hongkong to reach double figures on the scoreboard.