Some of the best foreign players seen in action during the recently concluded second season of the Angkor Beer Cambodian Basketball League joined hands to outplay a select local side 98-71 in the country’s first-ever all star game at the Olympic Stadium Indoor Arena on Saturday.
Casting aside their fierce rivalries during the season, both the international and Cambodian players played the game in a spirit of good-natured fun to officially bring the curtain down on the CBL this year.
Thriving on Ben Laird’s success from behind the arc, the International side got off to a bright start, but Sok Tour put the game on an even keel by the end of the first quarter.
The locals grabbed the second quarter initiative with a seven point lead on the back of Pheng Darath’s work on two long rangers. But Jeff Cruz’s fast solo break came in the nick of time for the Internationals to level up at 31 with four minutes left in the half.
It was at this demanding phase that International side’s coach Chris Borja brought back the starting five, and the tactic worked well enough with Jeff Kane sinking three pointers twice in the dash up to half time. The Cambodian MVP of the season Ouch Phanat produced a spectacular basket on a fast break, earning an additional free throw in the bargain. But that wasn’t enough to stop the Internationals from taking a 39-35 half time lead.
Sok Samnang scored under the rim at the start of the third quarter from a beautiful behind-the-back pass from Ouch Phanat to keep their rivals on the hop. But it was Italian Grabiele Castaldo who kept his side in front with his fade-away shots. Filipino star Aimar Sabayo and his compatriot Janno Cunanan kept stretching the lead. When Sabayo beat the third quarter buzzer with a rebound, the Internationals led 62-54.
Backed by their own strong defensive set up, the Internationals came up with several fast breaks to keep the score-board moving fast. Aimar Sabayo’s one-handed dunk fittingly polished off the internationals never-in-doubt victory.
One of the highlights of the game was a dunk exhibition held during half time. The player at the centre of riveting attention of the crowd was Castaldo. The Italian delighted the audience with several amazing air-borne shots, the stand-out being a two-handed alley-oop dunk and an equally eye-catching 360.
International All Star: 98 (Aimar Sabayo 16, Ben Laird 16, Gabriele Castaldo 10) beat Cambodian All Stars: 71 (Ouch Phanat 11, Monh Ratana 10, Kim Vengngoun 10).