Youngsters fall to experienced Thais
A YOUNG national team could not translate an early lead into victory as Thailand rallied for a 74-67 win on the opening day of the Southeast Asian Basketball Championship in Manila yesterday.
After leaving behind a host of key players, coach Goh Cheng Huat’s inexperienced side began well and led by 10 points midway through the second quarter before running out of steam.
Cheng Huat elected to give every member of the 12-man squad game time with the Malaysian bench outscoring the Thai reserves 31-19.
Malaysia led 25-15 after the first quarter and 41-36 at halftime before Thailand ended the third quarter on a 14-2 run to take a six-point lead into the last period.
Thailand extended their lead to 12 points but a 9-0 Malaysia run capped by Vincent Choong’s three-pointer reduced the deficit to 68-65 with a minute to go.
But the Thais cleverly drew fouls from the Malaysians and sank six free throws to win by the final margin.
Choo Wei Hong led the scoring for Malaysia with 12 points while Liaw Chee Huei, with 10, was the only other Malaysian to reach double figures.
Chitchai Ananti led all scorers with 24 points while Patiphan Klahan had 11 points and 11 rebounds for Thailand, who opted not to include America-born naturalised players Tyler Lamb and Moses Morgan in their squad.
The victory extended Thailand’s dominance over Malaysia to six wins in a row since the 2007 Sea Games in Korat.
Malaysia, runners-up in 2015, play 2015 Sea Games silver medallist Indonesia today looking for a first win in the seventeam competition.
Earlier, Indonesia made light of the absences of naturalised players Jamarr Johnson and Am Arki Wisnu to rout Singapore 71-50. Devinder Singh