Cambodia suffered disappointing losses over the weekend’s at the 4th China-ASEAN Invitational Basketball Tournament to see them head to a playoff for seventh place with Macau in Nanning today.
The Cambodian team needed a win against Chinese Taipei in their last Group B game on Saturday to advance to the semifinals but fell 103-96 to set up a tie with Hong Kong, who finished fourth in Group A. The former British colony proved too strong for the Kingdom’s men yesterday with a 82-62 score line that took them into the fifth place playoff.
It was Hong Kong who started the game like a freight train, breaking quickly and keeping Cambodia on the back foot to finish the first quarter up by 26-15.
Cambodia attempted a comeback in the second quarter, but were met with stiff resistance with their foreign-based trio of Pek Mith, Thach Boroth, and Oeun Sopoeun unable to inspire the team as they did in the group stage.
They failed to combine well with Phal Sophors, Chom Chanborey and Meas Rithyravuth allowing Hong Kong to take advantage by extending the lead to 24 points at the half.
Cambodia managed to close the gap to 10 points during the third quarter, but their reliance on their new recruits began to backfire after the severe workout against Chinese Taipei on Saturday.
As the fourth quarter wore on, Cambodia could not find the power to push on and appeared to have lost the purpose, guile, endeavour and enterprise that saw them record wins over Macao and Vietnam in earlier rounds.
They allowed Hong Kong to find space and time to drive home point after point, especially from distance, to extend wrap up the tie with a comfortable 20-point margin.
“Our players have given their best in this tournament, but we ran out of strength as we had to contend with so many games,” said Mak Chanphirun, Secretary General of the Cambodia Basketball
Federation. “Most of our players are playing at this level for the first time and were a bit nervous, but we surely learnt a big lesson from this tournament and hopefully when we get back to Phnom Penh, we can prepare better for the SEA Games [in Indonesia starting on November 11].”
“Our team is improving despite the loss. We need to play more together. The foreign players are beginning to understand each other but we are not yet 100 per cent playing together as a team,” he added.
The Secretary noted the team was not at full strength with Monh Putratana recovering from a dislocated finger, Ouen Sopoeun suffering from muscle strains and Lav Chhaydany with a groin problem.
However, he admitted they lost yesterday “because the Hong Kong side were very fast and are in shooting from far. This we have to work well on our defending before we got to the SEA Games.”