LIAN Fu Restaurant's determined defence earned them the 2nd Easyway Under-19 Basketball Tournament crown last night at the Brunei Basketball Association court in Batu Bersurat, beating Dagger 76-64 after recovering from a poor start.
The battle under the boards was always going to decide the final, and tightening the screws inside the paint, Lian Fu went on a 17-2 run to close out the game and the title.
Crucial to the result was Wong Yew Cheng, whose three blocks in the first five minutes of the last period created vital transition points for Lian Fu.
"We knew we had to play all out," said Lian Fu captain Jong How Kiat, who led all scorers with 23 points.
"There was no point resting anymore this was the final.
"They got back into the game because of our (bad) inside defence ... They kept penetrating and their passes had our defense mixed up," explained Jong about their lack of focus in the third quarter.
Lian Fu saw their 39-30 lead at the half dwindle to 54-53 at the start the final period, and a lapse in concentration had Dagger edging in front 62-59.
But two key blocks by Wong heralded the 17-2 run, and a series of fast-break points soon made it 65-62 to Lian Fu. A third block meant it was 67-62, and it was one-way traffic after that.
Foo Gwen Tong's lay-up saw Lian Fu open up a 10-point gap at 73-62 with the clock reading 2:40, and there was little a tired Dagger could do about it.
Foo scored 16 points on the night while Andric Koh netted 11.
Jun Ze's 20 points was the most any Dagger player would get, followed by 17 for Zhi Hung.
The game didn't always go Lian Fu's way though, with three turnovers in the opening minutes leading to a 6-0 Dagger run. A quick time-out and Lian Fu pulled back to 8-8, eventually ending the quarter down 12-10.
Running the floor better, Lian Fu would slowly start to assert their control on the second period and played better inside the paint with the addition of big-men Kenny Lim C. Hui and Sia Choon Hong.
Dagger's sharpness on the defense end slowly started crumbling, and with perimeter shots few and far between, had a tough time getting on the scoreboard.
Jong came up with a steal and went coast-to-coast to give Lian Fu a 10-point lead (37-26) with a minute left to go in the first half, once again proving like in their semi-final win over Syarikat Kekal Jaya (SKJ) that the team's strength lies in their transition game.
However, their 39-30 cushion at the half was soon eaten up, and poor marking Jun and Zhi hit key baskets.
Dagger's hard work was rewarded when they took a 51-50 lead at the last minute of the third quarter, edging in front after Jun scored and converted a free-throw after he was fouled on the play.
Up 54-53 at the start of the last period, Dagger looked to have the upper-hand at 62-59 but Lian Fu pulled up their socks - and Wong swatted a few blocks - to seal a deserved win.
SKJ settled for third after defeating Sin Yin Huat Autopart and Services 70-50.The Brunei Times
Monday, June 18, 2012
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