Unbeaten Master Tapsi reasserted their shooting skills with an ominously impressive 92-77 win over Smart Dragons in the first of the best-of-three-game final of the Chitato Chips Mini Basketball Tournament at the Cambodian Country Club court on Wednesday night.
The predominantly Filipino outfit drew its floor strength from Fredjie Portades, who was on fire, rolling in 30 points with admirable support from Janno Cunnana (23) and Aimar Sabayo (12).
Though outpaced in the early stages, the Dragons managed to stay as close as six points in the first quarter and did marginally better in the second to change over at 40-45.
Ladon Buchanan (18) and Sean Looney (10) kept the Dragons in the chase while limiting Tapsi’s scoring opportunities.
But in the third quarter, Tapsi tactically tapped into their youth reserves even as the Dragons were feeling the physical pinch, despite coach Josh Galt seeking rotations to conserve energy.
Tapsi’s Dong Menghamal could only shoot one 3-pointer as Jeff Kane and Traijkovic guarded him, but that opened the way for Sabayo and Cunnanan to drive in for quick baskets.
As the weary legged Dragons began to wane, Tapsi led 72-55 going into the final quarter.
Jeff Kane and Collin Hogkins sunk two 3-oiunters each to shore up the Dragons, but Portades hit the floor hard to keep Tapsi going.
On the strength of their first game showing, Tapsi hold a distinct edge over their rivals when the two sides meet again in the second game at 5pm on Sunday after the Extra Joss Fighters and MSGM play off for third place.