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An Emperors player (right) tries to knock the ball away from his CCPL Warriors opponent
An Emperors player (right) tries to knock the ball away from his CCPL Warriors opponent during their CBL game at the Olympic Stadium indoor hall on Saturday. Sreng Meng Srun

Emperors face test of Dragons

A well-filled card of four games over the weekend is dominated by Saturday’s hot match-up between Emperors and Smart Dragons at the Olympic Stadium indoor arena in the Angkor Beer Cambodian Basketball League, co-sponsored by Pepsi and Smart.

The Dragons are cock-a-hoop after beating GL Concrete out of sight 111-63, cracking in the bargain the century mark for the first time in CBL history. But the side cannot rest on that laurel when they face the mighty Emperors, who like the prowling Mekong Tigers are yet to taste defeat.

The Dragons will have to play a lot smarter than they did against Concrete, the mammoth triple-digit score notwithstanding, since the Emperors are all brain and brawn and not brick and mortar.

With captain Monh Ratana lording it over the perimeter, the return to the centre of Kim Vengngoun has given Emperors greater strength under the rim. This combo could pose serious problems for the Dragons if they are allowed too much of a leeway.

Dragons point guard Nuon Vath Sothearith could inject the much vaunted speed with the help of Leng Seng and Chhim Chandara, but of crucial importance under the rim will be the towering presence of Gabrielle Castaldo and Jordan Bergren, who is back from the Philipines after missing the Concrete rout.

Whoever wins this game will have the luxury of moving up to the third slot in the standings.

Saturday’s opening game features Pate 310 and CCPL Warriors.

With victories over Extra Joss Fighters and Sabay Tiger Mosquitoes, Pate were far from disgraced in that narrow defeat by Davies Paints. The team is not only in the best of shape but is also high in spirit.

Ouch Phanat, Taing Peng Kuy and Sok Tour have put up consistently good shows in offence so far and manager Chea Koktry will place this trio right at the heart of his game plan.

Warriors manager Jon Naval has to come up with a sound strategy to counter Pate’s all-round strength, revolving round his two key players Vince Del Mundo and Sovann Panha.

In Sunday’s action, Extra Joss Fighters tackle Sabay Tiger Mosquitoes in the first game billed. The two sides match each other on their record of one win and two defeats so far, but the trends distinctly differ.

The Fighters began with a heavy loss in their opening game but showed greater fighting spirit against the all powerful Mekong Tigers before weakening out in the fourth quarter. They picked up some momentum on that display and went on to stomp Concrete in their third outing.

In contrast, the Mosquitoes began strongly but lost their next two games by over 20 points. Jay Roden’s absence has been a setback for their offence.

Two teams struggling at the bottom of the standings, NSK Dream and GL Concrete, polishes off the schedule. Either side will be desperate for a victory to keep the hopes of a playoff berth alive.

Weekend Schedule
Saturday August 16
Pate 310 v CCPL Warriors – 2pm
Emperors v Smart Dragons – 4pm

Sunday August 17
NSK Dream v GL Concrete – 2pm
Extra Joss Fighters v
Sabay Tiger Mosquitoes – 4pm

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