After some easy kills, unbeaten Mekong Tigers may face their sternest test of strength when they face the Emperors in tomorrow’s key contest at the Olympic Stadium Indoor Arena, the home of the Angkor Beer Cambodian Basketball League co-sponsored by Pepsi and Smart.
Interestingly enough, the Emperors, who were runners-up as IRB The Lord in the previous campaign, are themselves wounded beasts in a way after last week’s loss to Smart Dragons and are highly motivated to take that frustration out on Mekong Tigers, who are yet to put a foot wrong.
Managed by Josh Galt, the Tigers are bound to rely as always on their power of youth just as the Emperors lean back so heavily on experience.
Sok Samnang and his team-mates are well aware that the Emperors, driven by national players Monh Ratana and Kim Vengngoun, are by far the strongest outfit crossing their path.
In contrast, a team that enjoyed an uncontested run of success last season, the Patriots, now named Davies Paints, were beaten by the Emperors in their opening game.
The Paints have put that defeat behind and are showing an upward trend after two successive wins. Manager Chris Borja will be counting on his players to keep that momentum going against CCPL Warriors in tomorrow’s opening fixture.
Pressure is gradually mounting on the Warriors after back-to-back defeats that saw them slide over to the bottom half of the standings.
The absence of Vince Del Mundo clearly hurt the side and to add to manager Jan Noval’s worries, former Heat players Sovann Panha and Sin Davuth have not been gelling as well as he would have wanted.
A tight finish is well on the cards when two teams blazing the track, Smart Dragons and Pate 310, square off in Sunday’s first match.
The Dragons have struck a good balance with Chimm Chandara and Phillip Elliot manning the defence, while Ben Laird and Leng Seng are doing the bull work at the other end. A strong Dragons bench has also made it known that everyone can chip in.
It is this imposing Dragons look that should cause some alarm in the Pate camp. For their part, Pate have had a good season so far with three wins by double digit margins and one narrow defeat by Davies Paints of a mere three points.
The team’s fortunes have been guided by the trio of Ouch Phanat, Taing Pengkuy and Sok Tour. However, two key players from the support cast, Adam Tayyaba and Dyna Thong, may not be available for this game.
The weekend’s final fixture will pit a struggling GL Concrete against Extra Joss Fighters, who have found a new set of springs in their heels with the arrival of Stephen Surima. The Filipino has brightened up the scene for the Fighters with a lively performance in the previous outing and in all likelihood, will torment his markers.
Saturday August 23
CCPL Warriors v Davies Paints 2pm
Mekong Tigers v Emperors – 4pm
Sunday August 24
Smart Dragons v Pate 310 – 2pm
GL Concrete v Extra Joss Fighters – 4pm