Here we go again. It was a heated rematch of the ABL Finals the last time in Kuala Lumpar. Now that we’re back here again, I don’t think that we’re going to get anything less of a battle to the very last minute.
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The last time these two played in Mid-December, Steve Thomas got a hot head against Reggie Johnson and the Thai side struggled without his contributions.
Thomas logged a season-low in points (2), rebounds (7), and assists (0). As one of the best passing big man in the ABL, the fact that the Dragons were able to stop his contribution from that area was a big part of why they were able to edge Hitech, 77-71.
Hitech Bangkok City can’t afford to have another down game from any of their imports, especially with the Dragons going on a recent offensive tear. Since the New Year, they have been scoring 100.7 points per game, shooting 51.1%, and beating teams by and average of 29.0 points. The Dragons are literally spitting fire.
Calvin Godfrey has been scoring 27.7 points per game and rebounding 15.0 time per game during that stretch, shooting a blistering 60.7% from the field. It’s pretty clear that he has enjoyed taking advantages of the mismatches that he creates. Godfrey is quicker than most imports that teams can throw at him and for the smaller imports, he can dominate with a solid post game. He’ll probably be matched up against Chris Charles in this game. The last time these two matched up, Godfrey ended up having his worst scoring output with 11 points on 21.9% shooting.
Hitech Bangkok City took in a disappointing loss against the Singapore Slingers during the weekend, and will only have a few days to recover. Despite a monstrous performance from Tyler Lamb (30 points), Hitech were left confused when the Slingers shot a shocking 47.4% from three point land en route to the win.
But if there is a silver lining, Hitech Bangkok City were without local standouts Wuttipong Dasom and Nakorn Jaisanook who combine for a solid 11.7 points between them. Hitech sorely missed the two when they had to switch between the aging Attaporn Lertmalaiporn/Piyapong Piroon combo. No offense to the veterans (who I so dearly respect). Now that they are back, the local line up of Yi Hou Wong, Keuk Tien Yuan, and Loh Shee Fai should have more on their hands.
It’s practically a washout at every position, even if Hitech can afford to go a little bit deeper into their bench. This is why this matchup will always be a “must-watch”.
X-Factor: Loh Shee Fai
Okay, to say Shee Fai has packed on a few pounds is probably an understatement. But what are you supposed to expect from a guy who had just recently recovered from an ACL surgery? Shee Fai’s been scoring in all of his games since he’s returned, playing a solid 13.3 minutes. I don’t expect Coach AV to play Shee Fai major minutes in this game, but I do expect Shee Fai to make his minutes count.
If there’s anyone that still wants redemption against Hitech, it’s Shee Fai. In Game 2 of the ABL Finals, Shee Fai had a monster 17 points (5/11 from three point range) but Hitech were still able to get the last laugh. I think Shee Fai has the potential to hit (or miss) a game changing shot.
As mentioned, the Dragons should be really confident going into this match with the form they have been…and that might be what bites them in the tail. They’ve played the last 3 games against the three bottom teams in the ABL and changing that pace to playing against Hitech might be a bit sudden. Hitech have played only 3 games against the top 3 teams (KL Dragons and Singapore Slingers) and they have only 1 win out of it (against the Slingers in the first game of the season). Hitech needs to win this game.
And quite frankly, I think they will. It will be close. It will go down to the wire. But I think Hitech should be able to edge it by 6 points.
Feature Picture from Onvisa Thewphaingarm
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