The top of the table game between two unbeaten teams ended in Master Tapsi bringing Smart Dragons to their knees 65-59 to make sure of their No1 seeding in the playoff stage with a game in hand in the ongoing Chitato Chips Mini Basketball League on Thursday.
Taking to the at the Cambodian Country Club court with three wins each, the teams went neck and neck until the third quarter, but the powerplay of Aimar Sabayo (18 points) and the court craft of Juano Cunnanan (21) in the fourth quarter tipped the scales in favour of Tapsi, who missed long shooters Dong Menghamal and Jayson Mercado due to injury.
Dragons remained hard on the heels of Tapsi who came out of the first quarter 18-17 and crossed over at 34-40.
But that four-point lead was offset in a strong third quarter showing by Dragons, who saw American Ladon Buchanan (17) and compatriot Jeff Kane (13) wrest the initiative at 47-46 with everything to play for in the final spell.
However, the consistent Sabayo and his able ally Cunnanan often slipped through the Dragons defensive cordon to make sure Tapsi stayed strong at the finish.
With the ageless Ken Gadaffi posting 21 points, Extra Joss Fighters overcame the hard fighting MSGM 108-84, the two-time CBL finalists recording their second century score in the tournament so far.
The Fighters were sharp from the tip-off in the knowledge that only a win against the predominantly Chinese MSGM would keep their chances alive of finishing close to Tapsi should they get past the Dragons in their crucial tie on Sunday.
With this mission in mind, Sander David (18) and Nilo Candidato (22) padded up Gadaffi's effort to shrug off MSGM, for whom Pico, Jeremy and Hong Kwang performed well, with the trio accounting for as many as 10 3-pointers.
While the three-way fight between Dragons, Fighters and MSGM builds up the playoff excitement on Sunday, bottom-placed Warriors and Respeck will be keen to end their winless streaks.