Ante-post favourites for the title, IRB The Lord, came out gunning in the dying minutes to grab a 52-48 win over Phnom Penh Dragons in Saturday’s Cambodian Basketball League thriller at the Beeline Arena.
It is still early days, the finish line is months and scores of matches away, yet The Lord performed like any well-touted fancy ought to, snatching victory from the Dragons, who led by six points at one stage in the fourth quarter.
The contest boiled down to one crucial three-pointer Monh Ratana scored from the perimeter after an in-and-out move from under the rim. That gave The Lord a distinct advantage of five points going into the last two minutes.
Dragons coach Michael Dibbern tactically called time out at this juncture to set a three-point offence. Regis Martin missed the first attempt and the Dragons were forced to foul to stop the clock. To their dismay, Monh Ratana bucketed both free throws, stretching the lead to seven.
Though Ben Laird sank a three-pointer for the Dragons, they were short by at least two regular baskets when the hooter was sounded.
The Dragons led 15-11 at the end of the first quarter, with Martin and Matsuki Nishikawa scoring four points each. However, they suffered a minor setback towards the end of the quarter as an elbow check on centre Erik Laughlin’s face left him bleeding. He came back in the second quarter during which the Dragons allowed The Lord to knot the scores at 20-all.
Dragons nosed ahead 35-32 at the end of the third and skipped a little further in the fourth before The Lord caught up and passed them.
“Of course we are disappointed over the loss, specially after we led by six points in the fourth quarter. But we have improved a lot since our first game. With time we will get stronger,” Dragons coach and CBL coordinator Michael Dibbern told the Post yesterday.
Rindra Norodom (10), Monh Ratana (9) and Kim Vengoun (9) shared The Lord’s scoring burden. Erik Laughlin (14) and Ben Laird (9) were Dragons leading scorers.
From 34-34 at the end of the third quarter, Cellcard Eagles jumped to a 49-43 win over all-Cambodian side Sela Meas in the day’s first game. The Eagles managed their fouls better this time, though three players were on the edge with four fouls each.
Don Buer’s two crucial baskets opened up the game for the Eagles when they were dashing to the line. He was second best scorer for the Eagles after Sean Looney (15 points). Pheng Darath, whose 13 points included a trio of three-pointers, topped the Sela Meas scoring with Sok Samnang chipping in 10 points.
A game of nice rhythm and fast breaks kept the audience in good spirits as CCPL Heat generated a lot of it through their lead scorer You Heng Hour (22 points) to burn out Ganzberg’s hopes by a widening 20 points at 68-48. Kim Ran was second best for Heat with 13 points.
Despite Jeff Cruz adding some pep to the finish by scoring 11 points out of his overall 19 in the final quarter, Ganzberg had too big a gap to bridge and national team player You Heng Hour was always keeping the Heat going.
“It is not that we underestimated Heat. After our short loss to Alaxan FR, we thought this could be an easier game. We had a few players missing but it still is a big disappointment,” Ganzberg manager Robin Dionco told the Post.