By the time that this blog post goes public, we will have known who the champs of the Thailand Basketball League are. Whether it will be the Nakhon Pathom Mad Goats of Chonburi Hi-Tech, we can be sure that it will be one hell of a fight to the end if the first game was any indicator of the future. The stage has been set, the cameras are rolling, and now the stars of the show will take the stage.
16/08/14 CHONBURI HI-TECH 58 – NAKHON PATHOM MAD GOATS 65
In case you had any difficulties finding the box score for this game like I did, here you go.
The regular season had ended on a high note for both the Mad Goats and Hi-Tech. The Mad Goats lost two games the entire season (16-2) good enough for first place, while Chonburi lost three games for second place. Interestingly, these teams split their regular season series, so we knew right away that this would be a match up to watch closely.
The Chonburi Hi-Tech team is basically the same squad that is first in the ABL rankings right now switching out Jerick Canada and Attaporn Lertmalaiporn for Mana Jantuma and Atiwat Humart. The TBL restricts only 2 imports on the roster so Jerick could not participate in this tournament and Attaporn is fielded on Thai General Equipment team for this season. Note that the TBL also restricts no more than one import player on the floor at a time, thus making this Chonburi Hi-Tech team a bit different from the Hi-Tech Bangkok City team. With Jerick Canada out, Kannawat “Pillsbury” Lertlaokul gets more burn at the point and has seasoned veteran Mana Jantuma spelling him and Bandit Lakhan off the bench.
Nakhon Phathom Mad Goats have been tweaked a bit since the last time I covered them, switching out Victor Toribio with Tommy Smith and adding some other key role players, but most of the main cast is still the same. Michael Fey is the main inside presence, but plays the strech 4 position, capable of hitting the mid-range jumper. Lead guard, Nattakarn Meungboon, directs the offense well, balancing the sharpshooting of Ratdech “JO” Kruatiwa, the strong penetration of Darongpun “Palm” Apiromwilaichai, and the inside combo of Chaiwat “Yak” Kedum and Danai Kongkum. Tommy smith gave them versatility to play some small ball as well.
These two teams were matched up pretty evenly where Chonburi Hi-Tech might have had the edge on youth and depth, the Mad Goats could counter with their experienced veterans.
You can lead a horse to water…
Both teams had played midweek games with the Mad Goats playing the Mono Vampires for the deciding Game 3 of the semi-finals 3 days earlier, while Hi-Tech played a Laskar Dreya team into overtime 2 days before this one. Both games were intense, and it was quite interesting to see their approach into this game.
Hi-Tech executed their offensive set plays in almost every possesion, with a mixture of “Flex” and “Motion” plays. This set them up with some good opportunities, but the finishing was a bit lacking.
Hitech Flex Offense
The Point guard would bring the ball up, in this case Mana Jantuma (#27) and choose a side to start. The ball is then passed to the wing player.
The wing passes the ball off to the inside player, Christian Charles (#21), who has moved outside of the paint out to the baseline outside the three point line.
The wings cut through the zone, heading for the low post. The wing cutting away from the ball, Piyapong Piron (#13), could choose to screen the far inside player, Sukhdavb Ghogar, who will head to the top of the key. The inside player has to pay attention to the cutters in case they get free for an easy bucket.
The wing cutting towards the ball, Montian Wongsawangthum (#10), heads to the low post near the ball. The ball is swung to Sukhdavb, who has just got to the top of the key. Usually, the inside player who plays this role is a capable shooter. If he gets the ball in good rhythm, they will usually take this shot, as seen by Chanachon Klahan and Ghogar sometimes. If he doesn’t shoot, the ball is moved to the far wing, who has now moved into shooting position.
The far inside player, Charles, now makes a move by taking the screen from the wing who is pinned at the post, Wongsawangthum, and heads towards the ball. Usually, at this point either the ball handling wing has shot or made a drive towards the ball, and if not, the crossing center should be free to get the ball to work inside.
As mentioned, Hi-Tech did a good job of executing this play, but not a good job on finishing as evident by their dismal shooting percentage of 24.4% (20-82 shooting). What’s good about getting good shots it you aren’t hitting them? Christian Charles and Steven Thomas finished with a combined 4-18 shooting among both of them. With them being the main offensive focus on offense, that was not going to workout.
**For reference, here are some other set Flex Offenses that Chonburi Hi-Tech ran in this game.
Nakhon Pathom, on the other hand, ran some Motions, but relied mostly on isolations and pick and rolls. Maybe they were confident that they would be more rested than Hi-Tech so they kept going at them with flurries of isolation penetration kick outs and pick and rolls.
It was espcially Darongpun “Palm” Apiromvilaichai who got to the line over and over again for a total of 11 times while making 9 of them, en route to a game high 19 points. He was fouled 7 times this game, which was the most on any player. These numbers indicate somewhat Palm’s style of play as an aggressive penetrator who loves getting to the line.
While no one else that made a significant amount of shots made at least 50% of them, Michael Fey kept raining those mid range jumpers that make him such a hard cover. Fey made a total 7 of 10 shots, good for 70%(!) including a couple of big jumpers down the fourth quarter stretch to put the game out of reach for the Mad Goats.
And he sure seemed happy about it too.
Ratdech “JO” Kruatiwa is known for being a sharpshooter, though recently more for being fearless to take a shot than making them. He’s been shooting 22-81 since the second leg of TBL, good for a pedestrian 27.2%. Yet he creates the vibe that you cannot leave him open no matter what because he will make those shots if you give him a chance.
That’s exactly what Wuttipong “Reuben” Dasom did in this game. Reuben is an excellent on the ball defender as he is physically ready to guard anyone from the 1 to the 4. He’s also very quick and active on defense. He times his jumps at the right moment just enough so that it bothers the shooter without making contact. He showed this repeatedly against his matchup with JO in this game.
To say that it wasn’t JO’s day today, shooting only 2 of 10 from the three point line, would be a bit offensive to Reuben’s defensive performance. Yet, still you had a feeling that it really wasn’t Jo’s day nonetheless.
And JO surely felt that frustration.
Final Stretch Scares
The Mad Goats got a couple of scares from Chonburi Hi-Tech. Nakorn Jaisanuk picked up his form from the ABL and made another two big threes late in this game, plus a steal and fast break.
Alas, it didn’t result in a win, but it will be interesting to see if this confidence maintains for the young rising sharpshooter.
Another scare was when Nattakarn Meungboon took a nasty fall after being hooked at the wrist during a layup attempt. It was a combination of bad timing and bad positioning and the point guard fell wrist first onto the ground.
The floor general would have to leave the floor in a cast and even though the Mad Goats won this game, the spotlight suddenly shined on Suchon Maitampitak, who seemed like he might have to get a lot more playing time in the upcoming game.
Nattakarn “Arm” Meungboon had been the engine that keep the Mad Goats running with his brilliant passing and scoring
It was now up to the Mad Goats to find some sort of solution within 24 hours to replace that load of responsibility.
Did you really think I would go through an entire post without featuring Kannawat “Pillsbury” Lertlaokul?
The diminutive point guard displayed once again that size doesn’t matter when you have got crazy handles, speed, and body control.
In this highlight play of the game, you can see him shift his weight entirely from left to right to fake out the defender. Then he speeds to the rim and jumps to get the defenders commited. He finishes off with a change on the release to make sure no one will touch it.
This Pillsbury mention might be mandatory in every Hi-Tech involved game, but he has definitely earned it. Don’t make the same mistake of overlooking Pillsbury Dough Boy like Michael Fey here.
As mentioned, Chonburi Hi-tech struggled because they couldn’t finish what they had started, which was to score the basketball.Now, Nakhon Pathom are in the same seat. All they have to do is finish off one more game.
At the end of game one, it was all smiles and celebration.
But keep your shirts on, Mad Goats. It’s still far from over.
Will the Mad Goats wrap it up in two? Will Chonburi Hi-Tech bounce back? Stay tuned for the recap of Game 2.
For the coverage on Game 2, click here.