Two all-Cambodian teams, NSK Dream and Sela Meas will hit the boards at Beeline Arena in the first of the three games slotted for Saturday, marking the start of a long winding 70-match inaugural season of the Cambodian Basketball League presented by title sponsors Western Union.
The second tie features Cellcard Eagles against IRB The Lord while Alaxan FR Patriots take on Ganzberg in the late evening encounter.
The local flavour will be glowingly evident when the first two sides take the court.
On one end is Sela Meas, a perfect blend of some seasoned players with good basketball sense and control. Though the team performed in snatches during last year’s Challenge competition, they did trouble some of their higher-ranked rivals and the team is all the better this season for that useful airing.
Opposing Sela Meas will be NSK Dream, the youngest team in the roster with an average age of just 23. With an average height of 180 centimetres, they may not exactly be giants but they are big at heart and that could possibly go in their favour.
Sela Meas will have to contend with the guiles of 190-centimetre Ouch Sokpanha and look out for his intrusive play.
Meanwhile, the towering presence of Keith Kelly and Sean Looney could pose IRB The Lord some problems as the Cellcard Eagles are sure to protect their rim more zealously than their rivals. Looney had a big hand in Sabay Salty Crabs winning the Challenge last year, but some quality players he played with then will now be on the other half of the court.
The Lord’s strength will be in their long range shooting and quick transitions, areas where national players Kim Vengoun and Monh Ratana normally excel. Both these men are also good three-point shooters.
This is a contest where the tougher of the two sides will prevail.
The trio of Colin Meyn, Curran Hendry and Jeffrey Cane hopping over from last year’s Team Sharky to the Alaxan FR Patriots fold could considerably boost the squad’s stocks. The Patriots will be hoping to see Filipino Aimar Sabayo touch his best the way he did in the first half of the Challenge before injury slowed him down a bit.
Interestingly, Sabayo will cross paths with some of his Filipino friends who form the core of Ganzberg, a team that could adopt blowout tactics with their full press offence.
Among the major tasks for the Patriots would be to rein in Jerry Roxas, who has the speed to outrun his pursuers and keep one of the best point guards in the business, Emman Quiriz, in check.
Entry to the arena for the members of the public is free. During half time breaks there will be fun contests on dribbling and shooting for the audience with T-shirts and caps as giveaway prizes.
- NSK Dream v Sela Meas 2pm
- Cellcard Eagles v IRB The Lord 4pm
- Alaxan FR Patriots v Ganzberg 6pm