| Fadhil Yunus |
BRUNEI Beruang Blazers cemented second seed berth in the knock-out rounds of the Grand Borneo Invitational Challenge after registering a 58-41 victory over Pontianak Vois at the Indoor Stadium of the Hassanal Bolkiah National Sports Complex last night.
The second seed spot had already been virtually guaranteed before the start of the second fixture after Kuching Lord Tiger’s victory over Miri King Kong changed the complexion of the group.
Pontianak, who with two defeats almost put them as the fourth seed tomorrow, could still mathematically steal second spot but it would take a win of epic proportions.
Beruang Blazers went for a nice drive but were unable to finish the layup before Pontianak’s Tjhientoso Malvin Julian lost the ball allowing Jamri Ramlee to retrieve the ball which subsequently forcied Gary Young to commit a foul.
Beruang Blazers captain Benjamin Sim made a couple of free throws as their team looked to be taking home the win.
Pontianak’s William attempted a three pointer but it was no good before Jamri demonstrated fine defensive displays and forced an offensive foul. A Pontianak player ghosted his way into the baseline and tried a reverse shot but it was no good.
After a strong move from three-pointer specialist Choo Yung Jian, Muhd Zainul Ashyraf bin Haji Hussin attempted the short jumper but it was no good.
Muhd Zainul made amends though in his next individual move after initially faking the shot before going in the inside and converted enough spin for a fine basket.
With time not in their favour, Pontianak were looking to minimise the gap as they switched to the left for a nice layup but the ball would not get in.
Pontianak’s Nico Putra was next in line to push the ball into the arc but the ball bounced off.
In the other end, Beruang Blazers’ Yung Jian raced to the floor before making a nice layup to extend further his side’s lead.
Beruang Blazers’ imports Raymar Jose and Jeff Viernes were both given runouts in the final few minutes of play to the applause of the fans.
Viernes, who is fast becoming the key player for the Beruang Blazers, is likely to exert more influence in the semi-final against Miri King Kong tomorrow.
With the win already wrapped up, it did not matter when a Pontianak player stole the ball off Viernes, who was slowing the game down, to convert the side’s final points.
Kuching Lord Tiger, who strengthened their title credentials with a third successive preliminary round win, will meet out-of-sorts Pontianak for a place in Saturday’s final.