A Sela Meas player (C, in green) jumps to block a CCPL Heat player’s shot during their Cambodia Basketball Challenge game on Saturday at the Beeline Arena. Photograph: Sreng Meng Srun/Phnom Penh Post
A resilient bounce back in the fourth quarter saw Sabay Salty Crabs wear down Team Sharky 49-42 in their much-touted marquee match up that lived up to its billing on Saturday at the Beeline Arena as the inaugural Cambodia Basketball Challenge, presented by Banzai and Sabay, completed its first month of action.
The hard earned victory set the Crabs apart in the eight-team field as the only unbeaten side on a four-match winning run.
The Crabs jumped to an early lead but Team Sharky came back with Colin Meyn scoring 11 in the first quarter. The Crabs were able to extend their lead to double digits early in the second quarter as Team Sharky’s Curran Hendry was forced to the bench with foul trouble.
Jeff Kane and Meyn rallied Team Sharky back into contention with a strong showing in the third at the end of which, the Crabs, for the first time in the competition, were facing deficit going into the final stretch.
Team Sharky looked the part to deliver another upset following their thrilling win over Raid-Alaxan FR last weekend. But that was not to be as the Crabs’ revival plans worked to a tee.
Led by the critical play making of point guard Eng Eavhai and the post play of centre Sean Looney, who emerged as the leading man with 18 points, the Crabs outscored Team Sharky 17-6 to regain control and shut the game out on a winning note. For Team Sharky, Meyn’s 22 points stood as the best effort.
The Dragons slayed the Knights in the opening game of the day. The Phnom Penh Dragons, pumped up after a previous win, were all over HTPS Mike’s Burger Knights in a runaway 87-37 victory. It was a grand exhibition of offence by the Dragons who led every yard of the way, with Will Zheng (20 points) and Kelvin Chan (19) doing the bulk of the damage. For the Knights, Joel Madiangawa contributed 14 points.
The all-Cambodian Sela Meas left themselves too much to do after falling behind in the face of CCPL Heat’s sustained fast paced attack. CCPL Heat, served well by Souk Tour and Kim Ran, stoutly defended their lead when Sela Meas put up a late challenge to eventually win 62-54. Sok Pagna (15 points) and Phon Chandara (11 points) did well for Sela Meas.
Meanwhile, Raid-Alaxan FR opened their game with a 10-0 run and cruised to 79-39 win over Mobitel XG Warriors. With star shooter Aimar Sabayo out of the game early in the first quarter with an injury, Bobet Cervanez led Raid Alaxan’s fast break offensive with 26 points. Half of his cache came on uncontested lay-ups as he outran the Warriors down the court on multiple occasions.
Sabayo scored 11 in the first quarter but had to sit out the rest of the game after suffering an ankle injury. It is not yet clear whether he will be available for next week’s game. Ley Denestrosa and Rafael Dionco scored 12 points each for the Warriors.
At the end of week four, Sabay Salty Crabs lead the standings with 12 points ahead of Raid-Alaxan FR in second on 10. The next four slots with eight points each are taken by Sela Meas, Phnom Penh Dragons, CCPL Heat and Team Sharky in that order. Mobitel XG Warriors with six points are just ahead of HTPS Mike’s Burger Knights (four points) bringing up the rear.
To contact the reporter on this story: H S Manjunath at [email protected]