With three more rounds to go before the play-offs in the Angkor Beer Cambodian Basketball League, co-sponsored by Pepsi and Smart, jostling for better positions in the standings has begun in right earnest.
Four matches are framed for the weekend at the Olympic Stadium Indoor Arena with top-ranked Pate 310 meeting in tomorrow’s first game NSK Dream, a youthful team whose form sheet is nothing much to enthuse about.
Pate have dealt with most of the top teams in the competition so far except for Emperors, whom they play last. Thus the ninth-ranked NSK Dream, holding a record of one win and four defeats, could be the least worrisome rivals for Pate.
The in-form Sok Tour and Ouch Phanat have shown plenty of toe in creating fast breaks and the team can again bank on this pair to trouble the Dream defense.
Last season, Dream missed out on the play-offs and are again threatened with an early exit unless they reverse the losing trend. In all probability, their fate may be decided on the final game day when they face Sabay Tiger Mosquitoes.
A highly combative contest is on the cards when Mekong Tigers, wounded as they are with two successive defeats, run into Davies Paints who have gone from strength to strength after an opening round loss.
The all-Cambodian Tigers are desperate to regain their poise after these setbacks, but they have their work cut out. The danger man could well be the new addition to the Paints’ color range, Janno Cunnan, who has played a key role in offense alongside the seasoned Aimar Sabayo and John Cornito.
Second ranked Emperors take on Extra Joss Fighters in Sunday’s opening game.
The Fighters have found second wind with four wins in a row, thanks in the main to the performance of Filipino Stephen Siruma, who well be the team’s trump card against a decidedly stronger Emperors.
As to how vital Siruma is to the Fighters scheme of things was well illustrated last week when the side scampered home against CCPL Warriors. Siruma was fouled out in the fourth quarter and a panicky Fighters nearly lost the game from a position of relative safety.
Although Emperors have their own arsenal to trouble the best, dealing with Siruma could well be their stoutest challenge.
Smart Dragons and CCPL Warriors, who are next to each other in the rankings, will round off Sunday’s action. The sixth-ranked Dragons’ main thrust will be to ensure more efficient rotations in offense, a mechanism that did not work to the desired levels even in their win against Sabay Tiger Mosquitoes.
The Warriors action plans will revolve round Sovan Panha, Fred Babida and Vince Del Mundo, since play-maker Angel Engilbert is still nursing his ankle injury.
Saturday October 4
Pate 310 v NSK Dream – 2pm
Mekong Tigers v Davies Paints – 4pm
Sunday October 5
Extra Joss Fighters v Emperors – 2pm
CCPL Warriors v Smart Dragons – 4pm