It was only the night before that Malaysia and the ACBA Dragons were locked in a 45-minute physical battle. It turned out to be the same old story from the get go in their rematch Championship game. The ACBA Dragons were able to claim the title, but it was a hard fought game from start to finish ending with a score of 63-59.
The Dragons were giving the Malaysia National Team a hard time on defense early on. It was so suffocating that it took nearly seven minutes until Malaysia were able to get their first field goal on an awkward drive by Teo Kok Hou. Once they opened fire it just seemed like they couldn’t stop, at least for the quarter. Malaysia went on a 13-4 run to close out the first quarter with Soo Eng Heng dropping a long range bomb to put Malaysia ahead 14-10.
Malaysia’s offense was running quite smoothly for the first two minutes of the second quarter, going up by as much as 8 points. ACBA then cranked up the defense another notch and forced Malaysia into multiple turnovers and bad shots, ending the first half with a 14-4 run in a span of 8 minutes where Malaysia didn’t score a single field goal.
The home team shook off their cold guns in the third quarter. They went toe-to-toe before shifting gears with three minutes left in the quarter. Down 40-36, Malaysia went on a 10-0 in barely over a minute thanks to a couple of three-point shots from Soo Eng Heng and a couple of strong drives to the hoop from Wong Yi Hou. Chun Hong Ting added another three and Teo Kok Hou finished the quarter with a layup to build up a 51-44 lead against the Dragons. The visitors would have been scoreless for the last three minutes if not for Darnell Brown’s 4 points.
But Brown was just getting started.
Brown led the charge for the Dragons with a 7-0 run before Malaysia were finally able to get their first field goal after almost 4 minutes. ACBA would continue to keep nipping on the heels of Malaysia until two costly turnovers shifted the game. From being up by two with two minutes and a half to go, Malaysia were looking at a tied game. With 37.0 seconds to go in the game, Darnell Brown went to the line, threatening to take the lead.
In yesterday’s game, Brown had missed two crucial free throws that would have tied up the game late in the 4th quarter. He made sure to avoid that same mistake, calmly sinking both free throws and taking the lead for good.
Malaysia had two attempts from beyond the three point line for the win as well as another game-tying bid thanks to their hustle, but all shots clanged off the rim. Darnell Brown was fouled after collecting the loose ball and sank two more clutch free throws to clinch the MABA International Basketball Invitation 2017 Title for the ACBA Dragons.
Malaysia didn’t get any explosive performances from their players in this game and shot merely 33% from the floor. Teo Kok Hou had 10 points and 6 rebounds, but didn’t get enough supporting contributions aside from Soo Eng Heng’s 13 points.
The Malaysia National Team ended up in 2nd place of the MABA International Basketball Invitation 2017.
Cover Photo by Norman Goh