IT WAS history in the making for the national basketball team last night. Playing under the banner of Easyway, they became the first national side to win back-to-back titles in the Sultan’s Cup after defeating the Wisdom Jade Daycare Wildcats 104-92 in the final at the Brunei Basketball Association court in Batu Bersurat.
Esmond Tan, who missed the last two games due to a back strain, finished with a team-high of 25 points and seven rebounds. Captain Ben Sim also had good output with 19 points and nine rebounds while Po Yung Hui added 16 points and five assists.
Big man Muhd Zainul Ashyraf Hj Hussin was shy of a triple-double with 10 points, 10 boards and seven blocks. Point guards Choo Yung Jian and Lim Aik Hock got everyone involved with eight assists each to their name in the triumph.
On the other side, five players hit double figures for the Wildcats with the high flying Geve Leones finishing with a game-high of 31 points. Danilo Felicilda added 17 and Gilbert Caranza contributed 15 points.
Going with their trademark man-to-man defence, Easyway were forcing turnovers and getting the ball behind the Wildcats defence for easy baskets. They suffered a scare when Tan landed on his knee forcing him to leave the floor. Sim was also taken out of the game as well after picking up his third foul.
The Wildcats came out storming in the last period by playing at a fast pace. They continued their good defence and went on a 10-0 run after three minutes as Easyway were not getting back on defence.
The game remained close but the Wildcats were clearly out of steam. Po nailed a three-pointer with just over a minute left at 99-84 that sealed it for them.
“I’m satisfied with the players throughout the tournament. They showed a lot of commitment and they know how to win it together,” said Easyway coach Kevin Reece in an interview with The Brunei Times after the win.
“No disrespect to the teams here but we need more outside competition to get better. We will rely more on the youth to play in such tournaments now as we prepare for the future,” he continued.
On the other hand, Wildcats head coach Robert Rubillar credited their opponents for taking the win. “We got ourselves back in the game cause of our defence. We remained focus and relax despite the huge deficit,” said Rubillar.
MK Primo Jaya took the bronze after Erwin Velez hit the game-winner with 1.6 seconds for an 86-84 victory over the SGTB Dragons in the third-place playoff.
Courtesy: The Brunei Times