Team chemistry worked well for Smart Dragons in their 85-73 victory over CCPL Warriors, and Emperors came out on top against Extra Joss Fighters, 57-42, in a game that was marked by some low sectionals in the Angkor Beer Cambodian Basketball League at the Olympic Indoor Stadium on Sunday.
The CBL has so far mainly stuck to weekend action, but for the first time this season the organisers have scheduled evening matches from 7pm over the next four days to wind down the league phase ahead of the eight-team playoff competition.
A breezy start by Emperors through Kim Vengngoun sent an ominous warning to the Fighters, who in going for a fast tempo missed a few easy layups.
It took nearly four minutes for the Fighters to open their scoring, but by the end of the first quarter they were just one point behind at 13-12.
The second quarter saw missed baskets by both sides before the tight zone defence employed by the Emperors seemed to shut down the Fighters for a while. Emperors were more than happy to take an eight-point advantage into the second half.
When Monh Ratana began to click with his three-pointers, the Emperors’ lead stretched to 13 after four minutes into the third quarter. The Fighters could only reduce the gap by two points going into the business end of the contest.
The Fighters did manage a few steals, with Stephen Siruma doing plenty of good work with the drive ins. But that was not enough to rope in the Emperors.
Dragons do it smart
The sixth-ranked Dragons set out to get a good playoff seat, and they got what they wanted. Despite the absence of two prime scorers in Ben Laird and Gabriele Castaldo, the Dragons bench showed its might.
Marginally ahead after the first quarter, the Dragons had worked themselves to a happier position by half time with a seven-point cushion.
The third quarter was more about Dragons’ consolidation, with Norodom Rindra regularly driving to the basket and flipping the ball to the 2-metre-tall American Jordan Bergren to do the honours under the rim.
Though the Dragons had to bench lively Leng Seng after his fourth foul, his replacement, Chhim Taingyou, produced a fabulous run of 11 points to give his side a huge lead.
As has been their wont this season, Warriors warmed up late with Vince Del Mundo and Fred Babida working in tandem to bring a 20-point deficit to nine at the end of the third quarter.
If the Warriors thought they could use the momentum to rattle the Dragons, they had no idea what was in store for them from Cham Nou.
Upon his first contact with the ball, he hit a three-pointer and quickly followed it up with a nice long basket and a layup from a fast break and the game was irretrievably lost for the Warriors.
Emperors 57 (Kim Vengngoun 18, Monh Ratana 14, Hour Pichbounchour 6) Extra Joss Fighters 42 (Stephen Siruma 20, Arjhay De La Rosa 6)
Smart Dragons 85 (Jordan Bergren 20, Chhim Taingyou 11, Hon Wei Chan 11) CCPL Warriors 73 (Vince Del Mundo 27, Fred Babida 14 points, Sovann Panha 13)