The Yuetai Mekongers stunned the ABA Dragons in a controversy-filled game to take Game 1 of their semi-finals matchup in the Cambodian Basketball League (CBL).
The Mekongers’ 77-75 win over the Dragons over the weekend brought the team within a win of earning a finals slot in the 2020 season of Cambodia’s top basketball league. The semi-finals are a best-of-three affair.
Led by star baller Tep Chhorath, the Mekongers immediately jumped into the lead early in the game. The Mekongers were ahead, 23-17, at the end of the first quarter.
The Dragons, who are one of the favourites to win the CBL title this year, fought back in the second quarter and outscored the Mekongers, 28-17, to take the lead heading into the third period. The Dragons were clinging to a five-point advantage, 45-40, at the end of the first half.
The Mekongers rallied in the third canto take back the lead. The Mekongers were ahead, 59-57, entering the final quarter.
The fourth quarter was a see-saw affair attended by controversial officiating.
With time running down and the two teams tied, 75-75, point guard Eugenio Falcomer unsuccessfully drove for a layup over Chin SoPhara.
The Dragons charged that Chin should have been called for a foul and Falcomer sent to the line for two free throws. Instead, according to them, the referees ignored it, and instead, whistled one of their players for an intentional foul. Yuetai was awarded two free throws plus possession of the ball with three seconds left in the game.
“I grew up in a war zone and has never seen injustice like the refereeing in that game,” Croatian forward Nebojsza Trajkovicsz said.
Tep scored a game-high 30 points for Yuetai. Guard Tyrone Reeder paced the Dragons with his 24 markers.
Master Tapsi slipped past the Extra Joss Fighters, 76-74, in Game 1 of the other semi-finals pairing. Shooting guard Fredjie Portades led Master Tapsi with 23 points, while veterans Reyson Ballesteros and Sander David had 20 and 17 markers, respectively, for the Fighters.
The Dragons promised to put up a better effort in Game 2. The second game of the series will be held this coming Sunday.
“I am planning to dominate down low next weekend. Simply put, there is nothing Yuetai or the referees can do to stop me,” centre Seth Hendrickson said.