Cambodia clinched seventh spot in the 4th China-ASEAN Invitational Basketball Tournament played in Nanning following a 70-69 win yesterday in their playoff game against Macao.
“It was a tough game. Macao was better than we expected but in the end we won and we go home with pride from this tournament,” said delegation leader Top Panha moments after the final whistle.
The former Portuguese colony proved a tougher nut to crack after the Kingdom had beaten them 77-65 during the group stage last week.
Both teams began at a slow tempo, having endured a tiring week of intense basketball including playing the last five games on the trot. The first quarter ended 16-14 in favour of Cambodia with Pek Mith dominating with 13 points.
In the second session, the journeymen extended the lead with Ouen Sopoeun playing as centre and Pek Mith operating as shooting guard combining well with point guard Thach Boroth to the admiration of the over 2,000-strong crowd at the Pingguo Sports Complex. Cambodia went into the half time break leading 36-27.
Macao fought back fiercely in the third quarter with Liu Xie Ming proving a threat through his long range shots and reducing Cambodia’s lead to 10 points going into the last quarter.
With scores at 60-50 to Cambodia, Macao came out firing on all cylinders as their opposition grew weary. Coach Lar Pich was forced to throw on a recovering Monh Putratana as victory started to gradually slip away from Cambodia’s grasp.
With 1:40 left on the clock, the scoreboard read 68-64 in favour of Cambodia with Macao refusing to give up. As Cambodia’s foreign-based trio continued to pull the strings, Liu Xie Minh powered home another treble to close the gap even further but a late surge from Pek Mith gifted the Kingdom a nail-biting point victory at the buzzer.
Cambodia will take nothing but positives from this 11-team international event as they prepare for the SEA Games in Indonesia which gets underway on November 11.
The team will return home from China this evening, when they will also be joined by star point guard Stefan Doll-Therro Sao who is arriving from his home country of Austria.