As widely expected Mekong Tigers and Pate 310 made it to the last four of the Angkor Beer Cambodian Basketball League following their second straight quarter-final playoff wins at the Olympic Stadium Indoor Arena on Sunday.
Unlike their runaway success in the first game last week, the Tigers had to endure a rough passage – recovering from the perils of a 14-point first-quarter deficit to get on top of Extra Joss Fighters 79-64 and record a two-games-to-nil verdict in their series.
In the day’s other fixture, Pate 310 put Smart Dragons to sleep 70-59 to wrap up the three-game series 2-0 without much ado.
The Tigers and Pate join Davies Paints in the next stage beginning on November 15, with the last semi-final spot up for grabs next week when Emperors and Sabay Tiger Mosquitoes look to break their 1-1 deadlock in the decisive third game.
After honours were even in the first quarter, Pate took control of the second and shot into a seven-point half time lead. The most fruitful phase for the Dragons was the third quarter when they had a 27-18 run, which saw them edge past Pate at 51-49.
Though the Dragons had the momentum behind them, all their familiar failings so blatantly seen in previous matches returned to haunt them in the final session, with the result that Ouch Phanat and Sok Tour worked Pate back into a winning position.
If the Tigers expected a stroll in the jungle like last week, they were in for a rude surprise. The Fighters were seemingly better equipped this time to take the fight to their rivals and it showed in their first quarter blitz of 25 points against the Tigers’ 11.
It took a pep talk by coach Hun Chanthoeun to rouse the Tigers aggressive instincts in the second quarter. Keeping their defence tight and effectively shadowing the Fighters leading scorer Stephen Siruma, the Tigers fought back to level terms at 31 at the end of the first half.
A highly intense third quarter saw swiftly changing fortunes on the court, but Meas Ravuth’s seven-point effort helped Tigers to a crucial four-point lead. The decisive moment in the game came early in the fourth quarter when Siruma was forced to the bench after his fifth foul. With their key player gone, the struggle was more pronounced for the Fighters.
Pate 310 70 (Ouch Phanat 18, Kim Ran 13, Adam Tayyaba 10) Smart Dragons 59 (Chhim Chandara 17, Gabriele Castaldo 13, Hon Wei Chan 11)
Mekong Tigers 79 (Sok Samnang 16, Chan Phearom 10, Meas Ravuth 9) Extra Joss Fighters 64 (Stephen Siruma 11, Chin Prasith 11, Arjhay De La Rosa 9)