The Hong Kong Eastern Basketball Team inch closer from possibly clinching an outright semifinals berth in the ABL playoffs after defeating the Westports Malaysia Dragons on the road, 110-96, on Sunday at the MABA Stadium.
The defending champions boast a 14-5 record and stay right on the heels of league-leading Chong Son Kung Fu Basketball Club.
It was a balanced team effort for Hong Kong Eastern with five players finishing in double-figures and four of them breaking the 20-point barrier. The duo of Tyler Lamb and Marcus Elliot notched 25 points apiece while Ryan Moss had 21 points, 9 rebounds, and 4 blocks. The hot-shooting of Lee Ki also couldn’t be stopped as the Hong Kong local put up 20 points, including 6-for-11 from beyond the arc. This is the third time this ABL season that at least four players scored 20 points or more.
The all-around offensive onslaught by the defending champions overwhelmed the home team as they led by as much as 21 points by the third quarter. A Lee Ki long bomb made it 55-34 at the beginning of the period.
But the Dragons, who had nothing to lose with them being out of the playoff race already, made one last gallant stand behind Joshua Munzon and Kuek Tian Yuan. After his 43-point outburst, Munzon still went guns blazing to tally 31 points. The Filipino-American also dished out eight assists.
Kuek also had a big game for the Dragons, notching a career-high 28 points on an efficient 11-for-17 shooting clip. The long-time Malaysian standout also drained six treys, the most in his career.
A Kuek jumper cut the Hong Kong lead to just seven points with under five minutes remaining. But the defending champions would once again display their poise and maturity down the stretch. A combination of jumpers, lay-ups, and defensive stops halted the Dragons run. Another shot by Ki from downtown pushed the lead back to 17 points, 102-85, with three minutes left, removing any doubt of who the victor would be.
Despite the tremendous showing by the Dragons, they still lost their fifth straight game in a row. Worse, they end their season with a 5-15 record, their most disappointing finish in franchise history. Just two years ago, they were kings of the ABL, amassing a 16-4 card – their best regular season record. They went on to become champions that same year, beating the Singapore Slingers in five games.
Hong Kong Eastern would eventually clinched an outright Semi-FInals berth later in the dat after San Miguel Alab Pilipinas beat CLS Knights Indonesia