For the BTN CLS Knights Indonesia, the deal is simple. Win on the road against Hong Kong Eastern and claim the fourth spot in the standings along with the home-court advantage to start the 2019 ABL Playoffs.
After the top three composed of the Formosa Dreamers, San Miguel Alab Pilipinas, and Singapore Slingers, only the Knights can still finish with 15 wins and they’ll have to make the most out of this opportunity. A loss could lead to a complicated multiple tie for the Knights which can also include Hong Kong Eastern.
The Macau Black Bears are also at 14-12 and the Saigon Heat can also finish with the same record if they upset Alab in their last game.
To avert complications, the Knights need the win but Hong Kong Eastern wants to win and win big for an outside shot at the fourth spot as well.
In the first and only meeting between the two teams so far, the Knights emerged victorious at home 87-78 but both teams have changed and improved a lot over the past few months.
The Knights are coming off an exhilarating 91-90 victory against the Saigon Heat in their last game. The biggest factor for them was that they outgunned the Heat who are usually the more explosive team from the outside. Although they got nothing from their bench, all of their starters scored in double digits to help get them the important victory.
Douglas Herring was the hero of that game as he scored the winning basket in the contest. The import finished with 20 points but also had seven assists, underlining his willingness to share the spotlight with all of his teammates.
On the other end, Hong Kong Eastern fell to Mono Vampire as the squad from Thailand was still eager to book their playoff spot during the time of the match. Hong Kong Eastern did not do a great job of taking care of the ball as they committed 14 turnovers as compared to only six for Mono Vampire, leading to a 17 to 5 advantage in points off turnovers.
They will once again rely on the talent and skill of Marcus Elliott as they need him to find another gear heading into the playoffs. He has been solid thus far but they need him to provide even more.
The key matchup in the game will feature Mike Holyfield and Maxie Esho. The three-point shooting of Esho will be crucial in this game to attract the defense Holyfield to the outside.
Hong Kong Eastern pulled off a gutsy move by activating O’Darien Bassett for Sam Deguara this late in the season but they are hoping that adding another playmaker besides Elliott will be more effective than having a dominant force in the shaded area.
When it comes to the locals, two of the best guards in the league will also face off in Chan Siu Wing and Wong Wei Long. Both can detonate from the three-point region but Wei Long has shown that he can struggle against pressure defenders and that’s exactly what he can expect from Siu Wing.