CYBERJAYA: Title-contenders Melaka are hitting top gear before taking on defending champions Negri Sembilan in the men’s event at the Agong Cup National Basketball Championships.
Melaka, who won the title five times between 2009 and 2014, showed good determination and depth as they held off a gritty Sarawak side to win 80-66 at the Gem In Mall here yesterday.
They started slowly against Sarawak and only led 19-18 in the first quarter before taking a 44-30 lead at half-time.
The East Malaysians, however, mounted a comeback in the third quarter and slashed the lead to 61-51 before Melaka found their composure to finish with a 14-point win.
Ma Chee Kheun led the scoring for Melaka with 23 points while Loh Shee Fai also found his range with 21 points.
Sarawak were led by Ryan Liaw on 21 points and 10 rebounds while captain Yiek Chai Teck finished with 18 points.
Melaka lead the six-team round-robin competition with four wins.
They go up against Negri today to decide the top two spots.
The top four teams will proceed to the semi-finals tomorrow.
“I think we are ready to face Negri.
“We’ve been gradually building our rhythm,” said Melaka assistant coach Goh Cheng Huat.
“I believe we’re evenly matched against Negri.
“The only setback is I may not have (Ong) Wei Yong as he sprained his ankle on Thursday,” he added.
In the women’s competition, Kuala Lumpur stayed on track to qualify for the semi-final as second seeds after picking up their third victory in four matches.
The city side overpowered Sabah 97-48 with Yap Fook Yee leading the scoring with 24 points and Chia Mun Yi adding 16 points.
Defending champions Selangor are, however, still the team to beat.
Yesterday, they beat Johor 64-51 for their fourth straight win.
Selangor face Sarawak in their last round-robin match today.
Men: Police bt Sarawak 73-65, Melaka bt Sarawak 80-66.
Women: Selangor bt Johor 64-51, Kuala Lumpur bt Sabah 97-48, Johor bt Sarawak 90-30.
Men: Sabah vs Sarawak (1pm), Police vs Selangor (5pm), Negri Sembilan vs Melaka (9pm).
Women: Kuala Lumpur vs Melaka (1pm), Johor vs Sabah (3pm), Sarawak vs Selangor (7pm).
(All matches at the Cyberjaya’s Gem In Mall)