After a grueling overtime victory on their home floor last Saturday, BTN CLS Knights Indonesia are hoping that they’ve finally turned a page.
Against a revamped and determined Mono Vampire Basketball Club, the Knights stood their ground and came away with a 109-102 victory. The Indonesian squad did not only put an end to their three-game losing skid, but they also snapped Thailand’s win streak.
“I was happy that we won a close game because this is how it’s going to be if we make the playoffs, it’s gonna be close games,” beamed Knights coach Brian Rowsom.
“And Mono is a good team, you see they changed their team, they have a very good team. So I was very proud of our team especially our local players, they played very well,” the coach added, affirming that it was a character-building win for them.
It was indeed a learning experience for the Knights. After breezing through opponents left and right on their home floor, especially through most of their seven-game winning streak, they were tested in an overtime duel. They initially squandered a six-point lead towards the tailed of regulation that allowed Mono to creep back in and force the extra session. Mike Singletary was left wide open in the perimeter as he knotted the game up at 92 apiece.
“We also made a mistake on defense to give them a three-point shot,” explained Rowsom. “So in overtime, I told my players to forget about what happened at the end of the game and just focus on the overtime and we did that.”
Fortunately, the Knights played their brand of basketball in the last five minutes of play.
“We just attacked the basket. They had a lot of guys with foul trouble,” shared Maxie Esho. “So we just tried to keep on attacking the hoop and keeping their backs against the wall. Not changing up anything we did in the fourth quarter, just trying to play solid and smart.”
Locals Febri Utomo, Wong Wei Long, and Brandon Jawato powered the Knights with an 8-0 run in overtime. Tyler Lamb drilled a 3-pointer to make it a three-point game but Esho finished the game with a pair of dunks as Mono was left scrambling on defense.
“I didn’t see nobody coming up and close out. So I turned my back again and then the ball [was] there,” explained Esho as he was surprised to be wide open during his second dunk. “I wanted to win. I’m tired of losing. We just lost three straight so I was trying to secure the win. I wasn’t trying to be disrespectful to Mono or anything, I just wanted to secure the win.”
Fueled by Esho’s desire to win and the team’s collective effort, the Knights earned their 10th victory of the season. And after a back-and-forth game with Mono, they are hell-bent to make a strong push towards the ABL playoffs.
“It’s a real confidence booster,” Douglas Herring said about the win. “We’ve kind of been down a little bit lately, messing a little bit on details. So it was good to get a nice win, have some to go back and study. And look forward to the next game.”
“We gotta be better setting the tone and setting an example playing through what I feel like missed calls, trying to get my teammates going, just continue to attack,” he went on.
With all teams trying to vie a playoff spot, the Knights’ 10-10 record isn’t safe at all. They also have a tough schedule ahead, playing against the third place Singapore Slingers and fourth place Saigon Heat twice in their next five outings.
“We have to take every game now like it’s a playoff game,” coach Rowsom said. “Next week we play Saigon Heat, they need to win, we need to win, so every game now is gonna a fight, and we have to play together in order to make the playoffs.”
The Knights will be back in action on February 24 versus the Heat at the CIS Arena in Vietnam.