We’re back for Day 2 of the action in the Seri Mutiara Cup 2017 which had it’s first overtime game!
Seri Mutiara Champions Cup 2017: Day 2
Game 1: Kano Pillars (Nigeria) vs Beijing BRBC (China)
After starring in his debut, Beijing’s star guard Stephon Marbury was left as a DNP in the box score today, possible to control his conditioning.
Shavlik Randolph made an open two handed slam with ease after a nice inlet pass from Zaid Abbas to start the day in the Seri Mutiara Cup 2017. That would prove to be the telling tale of how the game would progress further on with Beijing jumping out to a 17-2 lead midway through the first quarter. The Fly Dragons continued to roll on, leading the Pillers 26-7 at the end of the first quarter.
Even with star guard Stephon Marbury sitting out for the day, Beijing were still able to maintain their dominance. They had enough size to matchup with the Pillars athleticism and clearly had more experience. Beijing held a comfortable enough lead to start resting their imports, playing their local youngsters for most of the second quarter. The Pillars settled in for a better offensive second quarter, but still trailed 49-21 at the halftime buzzer.
The Nigerian Champions tried to mount a comeback while Beijng limited their imports’ minutes, but the Fly Dragons held on to a 71-59 win.
Nwafor Joseph was a force for the Pillars with his athletic rebounds and recorded a double-double of 12 points and 10 rebounds.
Player of the Game: Shavlik Randolph
16 Points, 10 rebounds, 13 Minutes
It was tough to pinpoint an individual outstanding performance from this game, but Randolph’s efficient stat line was quite impressive.
Game 2: Fubon Braves (Chinese-Taipei) vs K.K. Split (Croatia)
One the most entertaining games of the tournament so far had it’s twists and turns but it would end with the Fubon Braves coming out victorious, despite trailing for most of the game.
19-year-old wunderkid Mate Kalajsic went to work early for KK Split as he carefully threaded the Fubon Brave defence for pinpoint passes. Kalajcic and Mike Scott reigned terror on the Braves perimeter defence by continuously breaking down the defense. After a steal and breakaway jam by Pavlev Marcinkovic to give Split a 17-6 lead, the Braves called for a timeout to regroup. It turned out to be just what the Braves needed and they came out blazing with a 8-0 run inspired by a well-rested Garret Siler. Split added one more basket to end the quarter holding on to a 19-14 lead.
The Braves continued to get their offense rolling with a three from Chih Shan Hung to start the second quarter. They closed in to within 3 points before Split’s veteran, Mateo Kedzo, came back into the game to get his team’s offense going. His three point shooting got Split back 40-29 nearing the end of the first half. With the risk of falling further behind, the Braves rallied behind Joeseph Lin who had 5 points in the quarter ending 10-0 run. Jet Chang drilled in the buzzer beating three to cap off the Braves comeback bid.
Fubon finally took the lead when Shan Hung opened another quarter with a three-point shot. Split tried to press Fubon’s guards into turning the ball over, but it backfired as the Taiwanese side masterfully worked their way in for a powerful basket by Siler. KK Split later regained momentum later when Siler picked up his 4th personal foul. The quarter continued to be riddled with fouls, slowing down the game and both teams had to work harder for their points. KK Split ended the quarter in style when Kalajsic pulled out a nasty anklebreaker before giving the ball to a wide open Marcinkovic who sank the three. They held on to a 57-56 at the end of the period.
Mike Scott had been having a quietly productive game, but he opened up the 4th quarter looking to change things up with 5 straight points. KK Split were looking to break away, but Jet Chang and Tsai Wen Cheng willed the Braves them in close enough to set up a miraculous comeback. Shan Hung had been quiet for most of the quarter, but made a shot when it counted most by nailing a three with less than 30 seconds remaining. The Fubon Braves would have to make a solid defensive stance AND find a way to get a basket with very little time left…
so when Mike Scott clanged a three pointer, the Braves eyes lit with fire. Big man Siler quickly fed the ball to Joeseph Lin after securing the rebound who then pushed the ball up the court to John Bohannon. The import had an open lane and layed the ball in to push the game into overtime.
Split seemed to had control of the overtime period when they went up by 89-85 with less than one minute left on Gabrijel Maric’s only three-point shot in the game. With their backs against the wall, Fubon would bravely come back again as they had been doing the entire game. Jet Chang carved up the paint for 5 straight points to secure Fubon’s emotional comeback victory.
Fubon’s Head Coach Hsu Chin Che praised the Braves for their rebounding and more importantly, their willingness to share the ball. He pointed to the 20 assists the Braves contributed that represented his philosophy in team building.
Player of the Game: Jet Chang
19 Points, 2 rebounds, 8/11 FG, 1 Game Winning Basket
Chang was a steady scorer and creator for Fubon throughout the entire game and was even more impressive with time winding down. It was a gutsy move to drive in by himself for the game-winning basket, but it paid off beautifully in the end.
Game 3: Guangzhou Securities Long Lions (China) vs NS Matrix (Malaysia)
The rosters were barely the same in the rematch of last year’s Seri Mutiara Champions Cup Finals, but the two teams clearly wanted to take control of this game early on.
“We knew we had to come out here and compete early,” Jaleel Roberts said. “We knew this team was going to come out aggressively and we really had a goal in mind to clench the semi-finals seat. That was something that everyone on the team was on the same page about.”
NS Matrix started the game confidently after their big win last night, pushing the pace against the Long Lions from the start. However, the Long Lions turned out to be more agile than the Fubon Braves and matched NS Matrix with their speed. Ray Chen recovered from a horrible shooting game yesterday, showing up with 2 straight long range buckets. Zheng Zhun also exhibited his sweet stroke by draining four threes to the surprise of Roberts who had been designated to defend him. Despite Guangzhou’s hot shooting, NS Matrix were still hanging around with their rivals off of Keith Hornsby’s 10 points in the period. Carried by their long range shooting, the Long Lions held a 24-19 lead at the end of the first quarter.
The home team stormed out of the quarter break with a 8-2 run within less than a minute highlighted by an alleyoop connection from Hornsby to Roberts. Guangzhou’s offense sputtered as NS Matrix’s defenses spread out further from the zone. However, they got a burst from Import James Tucker who scored 6 straight points. The two teams kept going at each other full speed and traded basket for basket. Jaleel Roberts was a problem for Guangzhou’s defence as he was quicker to run the floor and used his length to finish on lob passes well. Coach Brian Lester adjusted to what he saw in the first quarter from Guangzhou and it rewarded him and his team with a 47-40 lead at halftime.
Ray Chen was trying hard to prove that yesterday’s poor shooting game was an outlier, making two three-point shots to open the half for Guangzhou. The Long Lions slowly creeped back into the game by packing up their defence on Hornsby and Roberts. NS Matrix was able to get out of their slump with continuous baskets from two of the smallest players on the court, Bryson Fonville and Jeff Viernes. That sparked a 13-0 run that put NS Matrix ahead 66-51. The Long Lions eventually got back on the board with two baskets in the final minute of the quarter, but the damage had been done. NS Matrix now built up a 68-58 heading into the final quarter in their quest to avenge last year’s loss.
Things didn’t pick up for Guangzhou and NS Matrix continued on, starting with an 13-2 run to start the fourth quarter. The Long Lions clearly had no answer for the NS Matrix imports who all poured in double-digit scoring except for John Avila. NS Matrix allowed Guangzhou to get back to within 12 points at 85-73, but Fonville connected with Roberts for a high-flying alleyoop to stop the Long Lions momentum.
NS Matrix would get their revenge by beating the defending champions, 93-79.
Hornsby had another explosive game with 36 points to lead NS Matrix. Roberts, who played with Hornsby in college for two years, also poured in 17 points and 12 rebounds for his team.
“It’s great,” Roberts said of his chance to play with his college team mate again. “I know Keith very well. He’s one of my best friends. So when I heard that he was asked to come, I told him it was a great opportunity. It’s always good when you have that type of chemistry on and off the court so i’m glad we could bring him along.
“Obviously he producing really well for us. We’re just glad he’s on our team.”
Coach Brian Lester had nothing but praise for his dominent big man, but also admitted that the team had to improve their perimeter defence.
“Offensively, we have no problem,” Lester said. “We have a terrific offence from one to five. Defensively, we have to better from the perimeter. We’re lucky to have Jaleel who is a great shot-blocker. How we guard the perimeter will decide how far we’ll go in this tournament.”
Lester also address the playing time of the local Malaysian players again, as they were only able to log a combined 4 minutes.
“We’ve been playing with really good spirit and we’d like to give our local players a lot more time but the balance between trying to win the tournament and playing locals is not easy. Our local players have great attitude and we’re very happy about that.”
Player of the Game: Jeff Viernes
17 Points, 2 rebounds, 1 Assist
Each of the American Imports had remarkable stat lines (Hornsby’s 36, Robert’s double-double, Avila’s 4-10-5-7, Fonvilles’ 14-7-4) but I felt it was Jeff Viernes’ spark that started the third quarter breakaway run that stood out.
Viernes has dazzled and inspired the crowd for being the smallest guy on the court playing toe-to-toe with the other giants.
Game 4: Changwon LG Sakers (Korea) vs Link Tochigi Brex (Japan)
Changwon LG Sakers badly needed a win against Tochigi Brex to keep their playoff hopes alive. Brex themselves wanted to settle the deal here and now before having to face the tournament favorites, Beijing BRBC, the next day. The two teams were hungry for the victory and it showed on the court.
The two East Asian powers sped quickly up and down the court, but their speed nearly cancelled each other out for the first couple of minutes. The Sakers had to go to Sirae Kim and Seung Wook Choi to get some breathing room with a 9-4 lead halfway during the first quarter. The Brex went scoreless for 4 minutes where they saw every attempt they got bouncing off the rim until Ikuhara banked in a gliding jumpshot. The point guard’s fearlessness opened up the offense for the Brex who went on a 6-0 run. The Brex closed in to 16-12 at the end of the first quarter after Cedric Bozeman penetrated for a buzzerbeating layup.
Tochigi Brex continued to stay strong in the second quarter as Bozeman added more dimension in their offence, starting a 7-2 run. The Sakers regained their offensive groove by bringing athletic wing Justin Tubbs for the first time in the tournament. The substitute ignited a 10-3 run, forcing the Brex to call a timeout in order to rearrange their game plan. The Brex came out of the timeout well-prepared and made a 5-0 run to tie the game at 28. Sirae Kim got a steal and broke away for a layup to close the half 33-29, but the game had been a grind-it-out offensive struggle so far.
The offense picked up for the Sakers to start the second half, while the Brex still had to hustle and work hard for their points. Even though star import Josh Powell struggling with only 8 points, National Team stars Kim Jong Kyu and Cho Sung Min shouldered the load during an 18-3 run by the Sakers. The Koreans came out of the halftime break knowing what they needed to adjust and left the Brex in the dust, leading 59-41 at the end of the third quarter.
Tochigi Brex came out more alert in the fourth quarter with two imports and were able to get in as close as 10 points at 55-65. It would be too little to late and an 8-0 run by the Sakers all but shut down any hopes of a comeback for the Japanese Champions.
With this 75-59 win, the Sakers tie the Brex with identical 1-1 records making their matchups tomorrow their chances to clinch Semi-Finals tickets.
Player of the Game: Sirae Kim
10 Points, 5 rebounds, 3 Assists, 4/5 FGs
The Sakers got their bulk of scoring from Kim Jong Kyu (15 points) but it was Sirae Kim who made timely baskets and orchestrated the tempo of the offense in his team’s favor.
Seri Mutiara Champions Cup 2017: Day 2 MVP
Jet Chang, Fubon Braves
How do you beat a solid scoring performance (19 points, 8/11 FG) that was topped off with the come-from-behind game-winning basket?