It might have taken a while but the Wolf Warriors have now scored their first win in the ASEAN Basketball League as they defeated the CLS Knights Indonesia, 96-88, Wednesday night at the Doumen Gymnasium, Zhuhai.
While replacing two of their imports turned out to be a great decision for the newcomers, it’s the continued stellar play of local Cai Chen that resulted to the victory. The sweet-shooting power forward led his team with 25 points on an efficient 10 of 15 shooting from the field while adding six rebounds and nine assists. Eric Tisby finished with 19 points, five rebounds, and nine assists while Mike Bell had a big double-double with 17 points and 19 rebounds.
The Wolf Warriors did not have a great start as the Knights played well to start the game, eager to bounce back after losing their last outing to San Miguel Alab Pilipinas. CLS quickly built a double-digit lead, surging ahead 18-6, after a triple from Brandon Jawato. This would swell to a 14-point advantage 29-15 at the end of the first quarter.
In the past, it took only one big run from its opponents to take the Wolf Warriors out of the game for good. This time around, they showed a lot of resolve as they fought back beginning in the second quarter.
Cai started the party with back-to-back layups then other locals joined in as Yan Xu, followed up with five straight points. The Wolf Warriors ended the second period with a 7-0 run featuring two-point baskets from Cai and Eddy Curry and a triple from Cris Shentu, as they trailed only by a single point, 45-44.
The third period saw a see-saw affair with both teams enjoying some time at the driver’s seat but the home squad started to gain rhythm late as they grabbed a 65-64 lead off a Cai triple with Jenning Leung adding his own long-range bomb just before the quarter ended to lead, 72-66.
The visiting Knights stayed within striking distance in the early going of the fourth with sharp-shooter Sandy Kurniawan nailing a triple to tie the count at 81-all. Two free throws from Cai swung the tide to the Wolf Warriors’ favor for good as they took the lead 86-84. Six free throw makes from Tisby guaranteed the Wolf Warriors’ victory.
It was another painful loss for CLS, who dropped an overtime game at home against San Miguel Alab Pilipinas. They now have a 2-6 win-loss tally.
The Knights were led by Maxie Esho with 26 points while Montay Brandon added 23 markers. Stephen Hurt did not have a very productive game with 10 points and six rebounds.
CLS played without the services of main guard Wong Wei Long.