Winners of their last nine games on the bounce, the Alaxan FR Patriots will be keen on keeping their hot streak going when they meet the Phnom Penh Dragons at the Beeline Arena on Sunday in the Cambodian Basketball League, sponsored by Western Union and Coca-Cola.
While the Patriots have hardly been seriously tested so far this season, a resurgent Dragons, who have won their last five games, could well be the ones to put the competition’s only unbeaten side in a spot of bother.
After a sluggish start, the Dragons have found their bearings and have never looked sharper and more focused. Coming as it does towards the end of the league season, it is a pressure-free game yet both sides will be on the lookout for a victory that would give them a distinct psychological edge going into November’s play-offs.
The Dragons take the court without two of their tallest players, Erik Laughlin and Butch Missouri, both of whom have left the country. It is thus reasonable to expect the Patriots to dominate the rebounds with their trio of Curran Hendry, Collin Meyn and Nigel Doughan controlling under-the-rim action.
The Dragons may have to rely on the speed factor through Leng Seng, Ben Laird and Jay Boolkin as a counter-measure.
Meanwhile, a nip-and-tip finish is on the cards when NSK Dream and the Cellcard Eagles fight for the eighth and last play-off spot. The stakes are quite high but in simple terms, it is elevation for the winners and certain elimination for the losers. The teams are expected to throw everything at each other.
The all-Cambodian NSK Dream will go in without their key player Reazzy following his return to the United States. A change of tactics for the team could well be based on the three-pointing shooting ability of Ravuth Meas and Jae Jae.
The Eagles are bound to put their height advantage to good use but the absence of their top scorer, Sean Looney, could be of some concern for the side.
With no play-off worries for either side, Extra Joss Warriors and CCPL Heat will be jostling for a better ranking slot, aiming to finish higher than the other so that they could draw a relatively easier team to deal with in the next phase.
Both sides are eager to dust off their form drop. The Warriors have lost four of their last five games and Heat’s performances against IRB the Lord and Sela Meas were disappointing, though they made it up later with a win over the lowly Galaxy.
The last of the four games carded for the day pits Post Buffaloes against IRB the Lord.
The Buffaloes have nothing but pride to play for since their play-off hopes have already been dashed. But there are few teams in the league this season who could match the Buffaloes for their sheer fighting spirit.
The second-ranked IRB the Lord are well aware of the fact that the Buffaloes are no easy meat. A shock defeat at the hands of Pate 310 in their last appearance will probably drive the Lord players to prove that it was just one bad day on the court.
Phnom Penh Dragons v Alaxan FR Patriots – 10am
NSK Dream v Cellcard Eagles – 2pm
Extra Joss Warriors v CCPL Heat 4pm
Post Buffaloes v IRB the Lord – 6pm