The East-West International School (EWIS) boys team will face their counterparts from Preah Sisowath High School (PSHS) in the championship game of the 15th High School Basketball League (HSBL).
The HSBL championship will be held on Jan 18 at the National Training Centre Gymnasium. The game will start at 3pm.
PSHS booked the first finals seat after a masterful 64-49 win against Hun Sen Takhmao (HST) in the semi-finals on Sunday.
A big first quarter, where it scored 27 points to its opponent’s seven markers, allowed PSHS to escape with the win.
EWIS, meanwhile, completely manhandled Paragon International School (PIS), 84-22, in their own semi-final outing. The dominance of EWIS was so complete, that it limited PIS to a single point in the third quarter. The 62-point gap between the two teams is this season’s biggest margin.
EWIS is the slight favourite to win the championship. In their first game against PSHS during the elimination round, EWIS turned back a spirited rally by their opponents to eke out a 63-51 win.
In that game, shooting guard David Hay torched PSHS with his hot shooting from downtown. He made three of six attempts from behind the arc enroute to scoring a game-high 24 points.
EWIS is expected to once again rely on Hay’s scoring prowess from the perimeter when they face PSHS on Saturday. Sports observers are expecting PSHS to throw double or triple teams at Hay to force him to give up the ball or make tough shots.
PSHS’s lax defence on Hay was cited as the main reason for the team’s defeat the last time around. “We allowed them, especially David, to make wide open shots,” power forward Vannara Steven said after that game, where PSHS lost despite winning the rebounding battle.
Point guard Jet Starkweather is also expected to play a key role for EWIS. Starkweather has been a force on both ends of the floor. In their previous game against PSHS, it was Starkweather who put a brake on their opponents’ rally in the final quarter. Centre Victor Tep is another reliable option for EWIS, particularly on the defensive end.
PSHS will have power forward Chapthoeun Rothanak to lead their attack. Rothanka was particularly effective against EWIS in the past. He scored 21 points on a variety of inside and outside shots in the two teams’ previous head-to-head match.
In the girls division, PSHS will face Wat Koh High School (WKHS) in the championship, which is also scheduled for Saturday. The game will start at 1pm.
PSHS earned a finals slot after beating the EWIS girls team, 45-32, in the semis. WKHS waylaid Baray (Kampong Thom) in their own semi-final outing.
During that same day, HTK and PIS will battle for third place in the boys category (starting 10am), while in the girls division, it will be EWIS and Baray (Kampong Thom) that will play for third starting 8.30am.
“All the teams are good and have excellent players. We are expecting the games to be close and hard-fought right up to the final buzzer. Everyone should come and watch the games,” Austin Koledoye, technical director of the Cambodia Basketball Federation (CBF), said.
The tournament, which was organised by CBF and sponsored by Yuetai, started last October with 15 teams (10 boys and five girls) on board. Its main purpose was to promote basketball while at the same time identify the talents that will be selected for the Grassroots Development Programme.
The HSBL, which is now on its 15th year, is one of the ongoing basketball tournaments in the Kingdom, where basketball is becoming increasingly popular.