The Alaxan FR Patriots winning pattern has become so routine and predictable in the inaugural Cambodian Basketball League, sponsored by Western Union and Coca-Cola, that not one team has managed in 17 weeks of competition to come anywhere near breaking their total domination.
The Patriots stuck to their familiar script at the Beeline Arena on Saturday and reeled off yet another impressive win, this time putting the Phnom Penh Dragons completely out of business 75-53 after firing 15-2 in the first five minutes of the game.
It was as if the Patriots were cherry-picking their points much to the annoyance of the Dragons in the first two quarters, setting out on one fast break after another.
The Dragons did well to whittle the lead down to just eight points at halftime but the Patriots were adept in driving through a porous Dragons defence time and again, producing in the bargain a string of backboard shots from under the rim.
The Dragons could look back with disappointment, a few good attempts circling round the ring and popping out and their Plan B of switching from zonal to man-to-man defence simply did not work in the final quarter.
The most thrilling encounter of the day saw Cellcard Eagles clinch the eighth and final play-off spot after beating NSK Dream 61-53. Interestingly, both teams looked full strength unlike their previous games, though each had to make do without one of their key players. Dream lost the services of Reazzy and Eagles, Sean Looney.
Looking for the low post, the Eagles put their size advantage to good use trawling many offensive rebounds through Australians Callom McWiloch and Keith Kelly, thus opening up a huge 20-point gap.
From 20 three-point attempts Sok Panha managed to sink just two for NSK Dream, though Chim Chandara often got his way past the two tall Aussies under the rim. The loss meant that NSK Dream, who were ninth in the ranking going into this game, are out of play-off contention.
Once the outcome of this needle match was known, the eight play-off places were automatically decided, though the final order of placings will only been known after two more gameweeks.
The eight teams making it to the knock-out phase beginning on November 23 are Alaxan FR Patriots, IRB The Lord, Sela Meas, CCPL Heat, Phnom Penh Dragons, Pate 310, Extra Joss Warriors and Cellcard Eagles.
Two other matches on Saturday had no bearing on the play-offs.
CCPL Heat trounced Extra Joss Warriors 91-55. With just seven players showing up for the Warriors, the side could hardly bear the enormous heat national player Panha Sovann generated for the winners.
Despite being out of the play-off reckoning, Post Buffaloes showed their customary zeal before going down to IRB The Lord, who were never really extended in their 64-47 victory.
Saturday’s Results (Scores)
Alaxan FR Patriots 75 (Aimar Sabayo 18, John Cornito 9, Salvador 8) beat Phnom Penh Dragons 53 (Leng Seng 12, Matsuki Nishikawa 8, Jay Booklin 6)
Cellcard Eagles 61 (Don Buer 20, Geoff Harry 11) beat NSK Dream 53 (Ravuth Meas 14, Sok Panha 12, Chandara Chim 11)
CCPL Heat 91 ( Panha Sovann 28, Kai Pak 13, Largo Engelbert 9) beat Extra Joss Warriors 55 (Fred Babida 17, Carlos Gatdula 12)
IRB The Lord 61 (Ratana Monh 20, Patri Som 12) beat Post Buffaloes 47 (Jay Roden 17, Gino Gicqueau 9)