Captain Monh Ratana, who chipped in with 26 points, led by example as the Emperors edged past Sabay Tiger Mosquitoes 55-51 in the deciding game of their three-match quarterfinal playoff of the Angkor Beer Cambodian Basketball League at the Olympic Stadium Indoor Arena on Saturday.
The result saw them win the series 2-1 and grab a place in the semifinals.
Emperors joined Davies Paints, Pate 310 and Mekong Tigers in the next set of three-game playoffs beginning this Saturday, with the winners contesting the second season’s title showdown early next month.
It was the splendid shooting skills from behind the arc often displayed in tight situations by Monh Ratana that tilted the scales in favour of Emperors in a game full of thrust and parry.
The Mosquitoes enjoyed a slight advantage in the first two low-scoring sessions, even as the Emperors noticeably struggled to either contain their rivals or confront them.
There were times when the Mosquitoes simply used their height advantage under the rim to cut off Emperors scoring chances, but offensively they themselves could hardly pad up their small gains.
Just a regulation basket split the two sides when they changed ends at the start of what developed into a tense and tight third quarter.
When Monh Ratana clicked with a long ranger, the Emperors had snatched a one-point lead which stood firm until minutes later, when Trent Fechter managed to grab his own rebound and score for Mosquitoes to haul them back in front.
Nearing the end of the quarter, Monh Ratana was bang on target twice with his three-pointers and Emperors took a comforting 41-36 lead into the final 10 minutes of the game.
It was obvious that Jeff Kane, the best scorer for Mosquitoes in their two previous games, was not his free scoring self on the day and that clearly added to his side’s growing worries. In fact Kane could only come up with three points in the whole game.
Inspired by his skipper’s three-point basket early in the fourth quarter, Bun Vannet produced an impressive repeat to make it 47-36 for the Emperors, who at the same time managed to keep their defense tight.
Yet the Mosquitoes crept steadily back to within two points of their rivals at 46-48 mainly due to some good work by Fechter. It was at this challenging moment that Ratana struck again with his three-point special and ensured that his teammates played out time smartly enough to slam the semi-final door shut on the Mosquitoes.
According to the organisers, the semifinal pairings will be announced in the next couple of days.
Emperors 55 (Monh Ratana 26, Kim Vengngoun 10, Chao Prohors 6) Sabay Tiger Mosquitoes 51 (Trent Fechter 16, Andy Pontius 10, Steve Chunn 8)