Cambodia took a leap closer to the semifinals of the 2011 China-ASEAN Invitational Basketball tournament following a scintillating 90-72 win over Vietnam Hanoi in their group B tie yesterday in Nanning.
The victory came on the back of a 72-62 defeat to China Guangxi on Wednesday, while the team also saw their head coach Austin Koledoye return to Cambodia due to work commitments with Northbridge International School.
“We had to step up and take responsibility and in the end we won,” Cambodia’s Swedish import Thach Boroth said after yesterday’s game.
Both sides needed a win to have a chance of progressing, with Vietnam suffering a comprehensive 74-48 loss to Taiwan in their opening game.
Cambodia took a three point lead at the end of the first quarter, which they maintained in the second session to end the half 46-43 up.
As was the case in their first two games, Cambodia went to sleep and allowed their opponents back into the game with the scores tied at 61-all going into the final quarter.
Assistant coach Lor Rith managed to inspire his foreign based trio of Thach Boroth, Mith Pek and Ouen Sopoeun to combine well with homegrown players Kim Vengngoun, Kim Ran, Meas Rithyravuth and Sopheark Mith, as the Kingdom cruised to a 10-point lead with 3 minutes left on the clock. All efforts by Vietnam to come back were warded off by the high flying Cambodian team as they accelerated away at the finish.
“We are delighted for the result. We still have to beat Taipei on Saturday to progress and we are looking forward to that game,” head of delegation Top Panha said moments after the game.
Meanwhile, Cambodia’s promising pair of Monh Putratana and Lav Chhaydany have been ruled out of the rest of the competition following injuries sustained in the first game against Macao. Putratana suffered a broken finger while Chhaydany finished with a groin strain. Both players will have to battle to be fit for the SEA Games which is just 2 weeks away.
Cambodia observes a rest day today before their all important clash against Chinese Taipei tomorrow. A win will see the Kingdom safely into the semifinals, with Malaysia their likely opponent.
“I don’t have the ability to prevent their closure,” he said. “So that’s why we have been trying to find sponsors to open a film school.”