After five game days in the Cambodian Basketball League, sponsored by Western Union and Coca-Cola, only two of the 12 contending teams remain unbeaten.
At the Beeline Arena on Saturday, top ranked teams Alaxan FR Patriots and IRB The Lord thrived on their four-game winning momentum to power their way to comfortable victories.
Spearheaded by Aimar Sabayo’s 23 points, the Patriots came out of a tight first quarter, during which they were in fact a basket behind, to overpower Cellcard Eagles 72-56.
The next best Patriot turned out to be Dexter Arcenas with 17 points. Geoff Harry (13 points), Sean Looney (10) and Keith Kelly (8) performed well for the Eagles.
Both camps fielded their best possible line-ups. When the teams changed over, the Patriots had a slender one point lead at 31-30 with the Eagles very much in the hunt.
But deep into the second half, the equation dramatically changed. The Eagles began to wilt under a rash of fouls even as Sabayo produced a few eye catching lay-ups and the Patriots kept stretching their lead.
It was an all-the-way 66-56 win for IRB the Lord over Extra Josh Warriors, who suffered their first reverse in five games.
By the end of the third quarter, The Lord were seemingly home and dry with a 15-point cushion.
The Warriors over-dependence on individualistic style of play had given their rivals a freeway to some quick transition baskets and The Lord’s Phanat Ouch (10) and Kim Vegnoun (14) were ticking off baskets at a very healthy rate.
Han Yi’s 12 points consolidated the position for the Warriors.
Late in the game, Extra Joss switched to man-on-man half-court defence to good effect while slicing the Lord’s lead down to just eight points. But a Monh Ratana three pointer ensured a safe victory margin for his side despite the fact that the Warriors had a better fourth quarter at 18-13.
Fred Babida’s 21 points stood out for Warriors with Jerry Manus lending good support with 10 points.
“Of course we are disappointed,” Warriors team manager Jonjon Naval told the Post.
“We have only practiced once in a month. If you take it individually, we have strong players but as a team we didn’t gel. The Lord have been playing together for years, that is their strength.”
After two narrow squeaks, CCPL Heat found their winning touch when they outclassed NSK Dream 71-58. The Dream youth matched the Heat experience well enough in the first quarter.
But in the next three, the complexion changed and the contest turned itself into a Sovann Panha show. The Heat point guard was everywhere, scoring on fast breaks, shooting three pointers, making assists and steals on the top of showing his mettle on rebounds, all crammed into a huge contribution of 36 points.
Dream did well from the perimeter, notching up three-pointers no less than seven times. But that hardly made a dent on the opposition.
The only positive take away for Dream was that they outdid Heat 19-18 in the final quarter, easily the side’s most productive phase.
“I’m happy we won. Dream does have many players who can score. So, in the second half when they had to substitute key players, we made the difference,” Heat manager Davuth Sin told the Post.