How many times has this tape been played? Over and over again, how many times have we seen these same characters in the same roles of fighting a battle till the death for the rights to being the best of basketball in Thailand?
So here we are again as Hi-Tech and the Nakhon Pathom Madgoats fight of for what could be a duel for the Title of Champions of the Basketball Thailand Super League.
BTSL 19/04/2015: Hi-Tech 87 : Nakhon Pathom Madgoats 66
Is that score line for real? Did Hi-Tech just beat the Madgoats by 21 points after the Madgoats had rampaged the BTSL by going undefeated with a margin of victory of 12.2 points per game?
Because we did a preview of this game, let’s see what points we covered and how they turned out in reality:
Hi-Tech are at their best when they are running.
And they really got running in this game. They scored 22 points off of turnovers and they started their first 3 possessions in top speed with Wuttipong Dasom running away with 6 quick points.
The fastbreak was exhibited exclusively in this beautiful quarterback outlet pass from Steve Thomas to a streaking Wuttipong Dason for the dunk.
Of course, you could play at a high pace and it could mean nothing if you don’t make your shots. That was not the case with Hi-Tech.
There was a 16-point swing between the end of the first quarter and the second quarter which saw the Madgoats 6 point lead vanish into a commanding 10-point Hi-Tech lead. Since the 6th minute mark of the second quarter up until the halftime buzzer, Hi-Tech scored on every possession that they had except on 3 possessions (two of which were offensive fouls ending up as free throws for the Madgoats and 1 rebounded miss shot). The thing about scoring on almost every possession is that the opposing team are never able to create any tempo. There are no chances for fastbreaks and you can’t pressure the defense by rushing the ball up the court. This is a main reason why the Madgoats offense struggled so much (more on that later).
Verdict: Hi-Tech were able to do what they were comfortable with so their offense was within the flow of their own control. It’s hard to beat a team that playing to their own rhythm.
That’s what Hi-Tech has to do: get the Madgoats stars to shoot a lot AND miss a lot.
Michael Fey and “JO” Ratdech Kruatiwa shot a combined 9 for 30 in this game. The Madgoats in total took 61 shots. So that means that two players accounted for almost 50% of their shooting while hitting 30% of their shots. Hi-Tech need the Madgoats stars to shoot a lot and miss a lot for a chance to win, and the Madgoats stars shot a lot and missed a lot.
It was easy to see that the Madgoats were struggling on offense.
One reason was the lack of offensive flow. The Madgoats could barely get out on the break and when they did, Hi-Tech usually found a way to stop them with a foul. Hi-Tech committed 26 fouls, leading to the Madgoats taking 25 free throws. The Madgoats would make 17 points off free throws, but having to stop your offensive flow consistently to take free throws can throw your offense off.
You could also say that it was just a bad shooting day for the Madgoats, but that would be completely unfair to the defensive effort that Hi-Tech put against them.
The Madgoats are averaging a league best 81.3 points per game.
Hi-Tech defense has suffocated opposing teams, allowing only 61.3 points per game.
Hi-Tech defense kept the Madgoats offense within check again this game (they allowed 61 points in their last loss). Everyone pitched in their effort on defense, but none shined more brightly on defense than Piyapong Piroon.
Piyapong and JO have had an infamous ongoing rivalry. So after last match’s incident where JO caught fire in the last few minutes, it was only right for Piyapong to come out of retirement and try to lock down JO in this game. Piyapong’s approach to defending JO is different from others that have try to defend him.
For instance, Wuttipong Dasom will defend JO straight up and shadow his every movement making it hard create anything. It works sometimes, but a player of JO’s level will break that defense down. Piyapong, however, stands firmly on JO’s right side with his hands stretched up completely.
This shuts down JO’s right side penetration and makes it harder for him to shoot, but it leaves the left side wide open. That’s what Piyapong is expecting and he’d rather let JO drive in from his left side that to be able to freely operate off the dribble.
It worked in many ways, because it caused JO to play closer to the basket which clogs up the space where Michael Fey operates. Fey was forced further and further out of the basket and he took an uncharacteristic 3 shot from outside of the three-point line. In a way, this simple offensive stance clogged up two offensive weapons in one stroke.
Verdict: Hi-Tech’s excellent job on defense and an unlucky day, caused a very sad day on offense.
I did clearly mention that if JO had a bad day shooting, the Madgoats would have a hard time winning. JO did get some shots in, but he had to work hard for those shots.
Verdict: I can see into the future.
Swing and a miss
…I also did boldly suggest that Hi-Tech would have a better chance of winning if Montien Wongsawarngthum or Nakorn Jaisanook had a good game. Montien wasn’t even seen on the roster [Editor’s Note: Curiously has also been absent for the past couple of games.] and while Nakorn did hit two three-point shots, he was not the main focus of this Hi-Tech win.
Verdict: I know nothing.
Hi-Tech walked away with the Best Case Scenario they could come out with, with a win of more than two points. The fact that it was such a demolition is just an added bonus. Of course, this win guarantees nothing about the champion of the BTSL as Hi-Tech will have to beat Mono Vampires next Saturday to clinch the title.
The Madgoats on the other hand, went from having a firm grip of the trophy to having play cheerleader for the Vampires to beat Hi-Tech in order to win the title. How interesting would it be if Madgoats fans showed up to the Mono-Hitech game and cheered their hearts out for Mono!
Such is the life cycle in sports. The San Miguel Beermen went from Champions of the Phillippines Cup in the PBA in January to not making the play-off round in the Commissioner’s Cup in April.
That’s what makes sports so much fun.
In my Opinion
In this part, I talk about the things I liked and did not like from watching this game. Hold on though, this is a long one.
1. Sneaky Bandit: Where the hell did this performance come from?! Bandit Lakhan has always been a solid performer, but I’ve never seen him burst out on the scene completely like this. He got a rare start and was an important piece of that 2nd quarter run which involved a last second mid range jumper.
What I was most impressed about what this particular play where he dove for a loose ball.
It is one thing to dive for a loose ball and hustle at all cost to get the ball, but it takes whole different level of situation awareness to dive for the loose ball and poke it ahead up court for a potential fast break lay up. It was a shame that he was fouled and that Nakorn wasn’t ready for the pass, but what hell of a play that would have been had it held up.
2. Shouldering the Offense: Bandit outplayed “Arm” Nattakarn Meungboon (T&D’s number 1 draft pick) by a good margin today, but it’s not that “Arm” had a completely bad game. Sure, he had 7 turnovers, but that is overlooking the fact that he suddenly had to burden the offensive load that his team mates we lacking.
He had a nice mini-run where he scored a lot of points, but in the end, it was too much of a burden for the point guard.
3. Hair-volution: There has been one underrated storyline of the BTSL and that is the evolution of “Reuben” Wuttipong Dasom. I’m not talking about his game though (even though his game continues to make leaps and bounds forward), I’m talking about his hair!
It started out was a cavemen look,
before going clean,
then he started bringing caveman back,
and went through a strange period of golden hair,
before going back to old school in this game.
If anything else, you should follow Hi-Tech games merely to see how “Reuben” will show up.
4. Missing Giant: Quite surprising that Chaiwat Kaedum played only 4 minutes in this game. I guess the fact that Danai Kongkum was playing a good game factored into that, but I find it odd that they could not find more time for the Center who arguably won them the Division 1 Thailand Basketball Championship back in January. By playing Chaiwat more, they could have changed to a slower pace which would suit their strength’s better.
Again, all of this is just in retrospect and just my opinion.
5. He’s On Fire: I wrote that “Wattana Suttisin might be the answer to being a Go-To Guy, but he’s looked more like a Jamal Crawford than an Allen Iverson type. Great offensive player, but sometimes a but streaky and narrow-sighted off the dribble” and even though he had a great game, that claim still holds. Hi-Tech didn’t exactly set plays for him on offense, but he just simply made shots. Scoring 18 points on 11 shots in 18 minutes of playing time is quite impressive.
And he had a dunk in this game!
6. Destroyer: I think I’ve gotten so used to Steve Thomas’ game that his 20-point-21-rebound game didn’t really feel all that special. It just felt like another day at work. Steve is such an intense player, oozing of emotion all over the place whether it is grabbing a rebound,
dunking the twice from sweet dimes,
or even making a mid range jumper.
You just have to love his intensity.
While that may have felt like a season closer, the BTSL season is not yet completed with one more weekend and two more games to go.
This weekend, 2 games will be played with the schedule as follows:
Saturday, 25 April: Mono Vampires vs. Hi-Tech @ Prachaniwet Sports Center
Sunday, 26 April: Thewphaingarm vs. Nakhon Pathom Madgoats @ Siam University Gymnasium
The games will be played from 2PM to 4PM local time on their respective dates and can be viewed live at Channel 3 Family.
Pictures from the BTSL by Kuk Ornvisa Thewphaingarm