Sunday’s action in the Angkor Beer Cambodian Basketball League produced bloodless wins for Emperors and Smart Dragons at the Olympic Stadium Indoor Arena, as the second season heads towards the crucial playoffs in the coming weeks.
Touted as one of the top fancies for the title, Emperors were surprisingly not so lordly in beating the winless GL Concrete 76-61 while Smart Dragons, looking for a correction of course after two defeats, deftly handled Sabay Tiger Mosquitoes in their 64-50 victory.
Emperors win helped them draw level with Pate 310 at the top of the standings but what the side had not foreseen was a first quarter shock of sorts that saw the table-trailing Concrete end up with a 20-16 lead, which was as big as 10 at one point.
Realising that the slow tempo was to blame, Emperors stepped up the pace through Kim Vengngoun with Monh Ratana often driving to the basket and feeding the open man Hour Pichbounchour under the rim. The strategy worked well as the Emperors steadily built up a 39-32 half time advantage.
Once the Emperors tidied up their defence, they stood to gain in terms of some fast breaks that kept stretching the lead in the third quarter and the final session was all about margins.
With four successive defeats nagging them, Mosquitoes were desperate for a good start and they made one using their size advantage to come out marginally better at 14-13 in the first quarter.
The Dragons moved to 2-1-2 zone defense with play maker Noun Vath Sothearith injecting some pace even as Hon Wei Chan was using the space created by his teammates to drive through the paint to score 10 points in a row. With only seven players to choose from Mosquitoes were clearly feeling the pinch as the Dragons crossed over with a 38-22 lead.
Though the Dragons’ slow tempo in the third quarter allowed Jeff Kane and new addition Andy Pontius to add a few baskets to the Mosquitoes score, they could hardly break their rivals control.
The Dragons kept pushing for more in the fourth quarter through Jordan Bergren under the rim and Chhim Taingyou from outside.
Emperors 76 (Kim Vengngoun 23, Hour Pichbounchour 20, Monh Ratana 15)
GL Concrete 61 (Ran Noren 14, Tun Chamnan 13 So Kungkea 6)
Smart Dragons 64 (Hon Wei Chan 17, Jordan Bergren 13, Gabriele Castaldo 10)
Sabay Tiger Mosquitoes 50 (Jeff Kane 24, Andy Pontius 17, Brendan Petit 5)