The BTN CLS Knights Indonesia claimed the top four spot and home-court advantage in the quarterfinals of the 2019 ABL Season with a scintillating 98-97 victory against Hong Kong Eastern at the Southorn Stadium, Friday night.
In what turned out to be one of the best games of the regular season, the Knights simply had a little bit more in the end game as they won their second straight match by a single point.
BTN CLS led by seven points, 92-85, late in the ball game after a triple from Brandon Jawato but the home squad fought back fiercely. A triple from Lau Tsz Lai inched them closer then a jump shot from O’Darien Basset got them within a bucket.
With a little over a minute to go, Basset nailed a triple that pushed Hong Kong Eastern ahead, 93-92. This would start a crazy end game with both teams making big plays.
Douglas Herring scored on a layup to give the Knights the lead but Michael Holyfield replied with a basket inside to wing the game back to Hong Kong Eastern’s favor. However, the big man committed his fifth personal foul Herring on the next play and the guard converted on both free throws.
With their backs against the wall, the home team banked on Bassett once again as he converted on a layup with four defenders all over him. However, the final say belonged to the Knights as head coach Brian Roswom drew up a play where Maxie Esho would fake the hand-off to Jawato before driving to the bucket.
The coach knew that Adam Xu could not over Esho one-on-one. He also knew there would be no rim protector with Holyfield on the bench. More importantly, he knew Esho would deliver and he was right on all three accounts as they took the lead 98-97.
With no timeouts remaining, Hong Kong Eastern went to Bassett again but the full attention of the defense was on him. He passed it off to Chan Siu Wing but the guard missed on a one-hander as the buzzer sounded.
“When we play at our best, we could beat any team in the league, including Formosa and Alab,” said Rowsom after the big win. “We really wanted to take care of business now to get the fourth spot and not rely on the results of the other games because we know we are a very good team at home.”
Jawato the Knights in scoring with 25 points anchored on five triples. Esho and Herring both got double-doubles with the former finishing with 21 points and 14 rebounds and the latter chipping in 24 points and 11 assists.
Hong Kong Eastern pulled off a big move before the game as they released Sam Deguara to reactivate Bassett from the injured list. It gave them another huge scoring weapon as he led the game in scoring with 32 points on 13 of 21 shooting from the field. Marcus Elliott scored 19 points while adding nine rebounds and nine assists and Siu Wing added 13 markers in the game.
The problem for Hong Kong Eastern was that they had no other options from the big man position after Holyfield. He did his best with 12 points, 20 rebounds, and five blocks but his team struggled to defend the paint when he was on the bench.