All the eight teams making up the inaugural Cambodian Basketball Challenge, presented by Banzai and Sabay, rolled into action at the Beeline Arena on Saturday, presenting a competitive face of the game the country had never seen before.
No time was lost on inauguration ceremonials. A brief and simple introduction of the teams and a quick photo-op at the centre of a newly marked court.
A symbolic jump ball set the season of high hopes and great expectations into motion, brushing aside a few teething problems the organisers are aware of and keen on fixing and that includes installing the much vaunted timer.
For all the teams the first day was about adjustments to the new enviornment, newly marked court and untested boards. So speed and quality was at high premium, though there was no dearth of entertainment for a fairly decent first day crowd.
Sabay Salty Crabs had the distinction of winning the first game of the season, which goes right upto the middle of October. There was nothing salty about the Crabs the way they handled the Mobitel XG Warriors in a low scoring affair.
The Crabs led in all the four quarters. At an average of 14 points per quarter, they beat the Warriors 56-35 and the Crabs found some easy and uncontested baskets in the fourth quarter in which the Warriors could only manage two baskets, having done their best in the second quarter with 12 points.
Ratana Monh, a regular member of the Cambodian national team, caught the eye with his long range shooting. His top score of 14 points included three 3-pointers. Ley Denestrosa did well for the Warriors with 13 points.
The only all-Cambodian team in the field of eight, Sela Meas tallied the highest score of the day in their 69-52 victory over Phnom Penh Dragons, whose strong fourth quarter showing added an exciting element to the game.
By the end of the third quarter Sela Meas led by 20 points, making it hard for the Dragons to close-in. Piseth Soeur top scored with 24 points for Sela Meas and the Dragons had their hero in Jerry Roxas whose 19 points included four three pointers.
In the third match of the afternoon, Team Sharky found the going tough against CCPLH after poor returns in the first 10 minutes. A steady stream ensured CCPLH a comfortable 52-35 win, Tour Sok leading the charge with 12 points. For Team Sharky Collin Meyn’s 14 points went in vain.
Another low basket percentage was recorded in the day’s last fixture. Raid Alaxan FR were always ahead in their 54-40 win over HTPS Mike’s Burger Knights. Raid Alaxan’s victory was fashioned around Aimar Sabayo’s 16 points. For the losers Phanat Ouch excelled with 10 points.
To contact the reporter on this story: H S Manjunath at [email protected]