One of the Cambodia Basketball Challenge’s top fancied sides, Team Sharky, won the battle but lost the war at the Beeline Arena on Saturday, even as Sabay Salty Crabs were handed a dressing room victory after their rivals HTPS Mike’s Burger Knights failed to show up in a dramatic end to the round robin phase of the competition.
The Crabs waltzed their way to the top of the standings with a 6-1 win-loss record to earn one of the two byes to the semifinals on offer. The other was picked up by Raid-Alaxan FR, who scored a 48-38 victory over CCPL Heat to emerge second behind the Crabs with five wins and two defeats.
But in the middle of the pack there were fierce contests and intense calculations for the pecking order to break the ties among three teams – Phnom Penh Dragons, CCPL Heat and Team Sharky. Finally the axe fell on Team Sharky, who were worse off with a minus-11 points quotient rating.
Team Sharky won their must-win game 71-60 against the Phnom Penh Dragons in Saturday’s opening encounter, making their height advantage count in every quarter.
Colin Meyn (28 points) and Curran Hendry (14) led the Sharky charge even as Mark Nabong (26 points) dazzled for the Dragons in the company of Kelvin Chan (14 points). But the victory celebrations had to be put on hold as Team Sharky’s chances of making the playoffs depended on how the later two games went. Interestingly, the Dragons were also in a similar situation after the loss.
Mark Salvador (16 points) and Aimar Sabayo (8 points) stood out for Raid-Alaxan in their 48-38 victory over CCPL Heat, who put up a stout defence that reined in the offence. But Salvador turned an unlikely hero, shooting three 3-pointers to douse the Heat, for whom Kim Ran was doing a splendid job.
While the result cleared the semifinal path for Raid-Alaxan, the CCPL Heat had to wait anxiously for the last game of the day to know their own fate.
Nerve jangling excitement marked the last three minutes of the game between Mobitel XG Warriors and Sela Meas. The scores were tied at 65-all and then 67-all, and in the tense few seconds of the game the Warriors nudged ahead to win 70-69.
A steal and excellent drive by top scorer Fred Babida and a foul to boot gave the Warriors a safe three point lead at 70-67 with a minute to go. Sela Meas then made a split in the charity line with a foul on the Warriors. In the ensuing play, the Warriors missed and Sela Meas earned a foul from Jerry Manus, who eventually fouled out with 34 seconds left.
Sela Meas tried to set a play for the final seconds of the game. However a good block by Rafael Dionco on Chan Phearom and a rebound by Denetrosa helped the Warriors to beat the buzzer.
This stunning end saw the Warriors finish third ahead of Sela Meas, both teams having won four and lost three. For Phnom Penh Dragons, CCPL Heat and Team Sharky, who shared an identical 3-4 record, it agonisingly came down to quotient rating with one side destined to lose out.
Dragons enjoyed a plus-21 quotient to CCPL Heat’s plus-nine. Team Sharky with a negative-11 were eliminated along with HTPS Mike’s Burger Knights, who failed to break their duck.
As the Crabs and Raid-Alaxan wait in the wings for their semifinal turn, next week features knockout contests between the Warriors and CCPL Heat followed by Dragons and Sela Meas to fill up the other two semifinal slots.
Final standings at end of round robin phase
- Sabay Salty Crabs (bye to semis)
- Raid-Alaxan FR (bye to semis)
- Mobitel XG Warriors
- Sela Meas
- Phnom Penh Dragons
- CCPL Heat
- Team Sharky (eliminated)
- Mike’s Burger Knights (eliminated)
To contact the reporter on this story: H S Manjunath at firstname.lastname@example.org