In a remarkable show of big game temperament, first timers ALLN Confucius Supermen beat last year’s runners-up Extra Joss Fighters 80-55 in the title showdown for their maiden triumph in the Cambodian Basketball League, which concluded at the Olympic Stadium Indoor Arena on Saturday.
The outcome was a stunning reversal of the Supermen’s only loss this season – to the Fighters by four points in the final game of the round robin stage. It was another shattering blow to the Fighters, who are runners-up for the fourth time.
The Supermen led all the way and by half-time it was becoming increasingly clear that the Fighters’ were beginning to fade.
The Fighters’ 8-6 lead midway through the first quarter thinned out as the Supermen seized the initiative at 16-14 following tactical alterations.
The second period saw Janno Cunnaman and Aimar Sabayo sparkle to open up an eight-point gap as the Fighters duo of Stephen Siruma and Jomar Santos continued to struggle. The Supermen led 36-28 at half-time.
While Supermen manager Kenneth Kim used his squad rotation to perfection, bringing on the likes of Curran Hendry and Sean Looney, the Fighters coach opted to confine his key defensive player Ken Gadaffi to the bench and went for all-out offence, giving his rivals the impetus to penetrate.
Cunnaman (27 points), Hama Ranon (15 points) and Sabayo (11 points) took advantage to open up a 22-point lead in the third quarter, which ended 61-39.
From that point, Fighters never recovered and despite a patchy fightback from Sirunma Stephen (14 points), David Sanders (12 points) and Jomar Santos (12 points), the Supermen cruised to a 25 point win.
Meanwhile, Bayon Airlines clinched third place in a fiercely contested playoff with a 68-66 win over MSGM Beast.
“I take the responsibility and blame for our performance. I feel tactically inconsistent with the game plan and made wrong decision in player rotation. Supermen played great and congrats to them,” Fighters manager Oktavianus Hauw said after the match.
“We are still proud of our team’s achievement this year and we hope to return back stronger.”
Supermen manager Kim said: “It was a great result for us. We set out a gameplan and executed it to perfection. Beating a strong team like the Fighters in the final is good and we are happy to win.”
The title winning team received a $3,000 cash prize, while second placed Fighters were awarded $2,000. Third placed Bayon Airlines picked up $ 1,000.
The ever consistent Janno Cunnaman was named the Most Valuable Player of the final.