GUA MUSANG: Last year's winners Perak and Selangor successfully defended the Agong's Cup national basketball championship men and women's titles respectively at the Gua Musang Chinese Primary School yesterday.
The Perak men downed Sarawak 71-66 in a heart-stopping thriller which went right down the wire while the Selangor women were forced to bring out their best before subduing Johor's challenge 65-52.
Perak went on the offensive right from the toss to open up a 9-1 lead. Stunned, the Sarawakians abandoned their defensive approach to try and close the gap.
Perak continued to take charge and raced to 19-5 in the opening 10 minutes with Toh Chin Thiam, Lim Yik Kean and Yap Yen Nan taking command.
However, the East Malaysians came alive in the third quarter with national player Chai Tze Keong leading the fightback to narrow the deficit to 40-44.
The final quarter began with Perak ahead at 53-46 but a series of turnovers allowed Sarawak to close in again at 57-59 to set the stage for a pulsating finish which saw action swinging from end-to-end.
Chin Choon Siong's three pointer brought Sarawak within a point at 63-64 with less than four minutes on the clock but Perak pulled out all their experience to withstand the intense pressure and hold on to a well deserved third consecutive title.
In a repeat of last year's women final, Johor again had to play the role of bridesmaid, going down 52-65 to Selangor.
Johor got off to a good start with Yun Kim Yoke paving the way to a 15-9 lead by sinking three 3-point baskets.
However, once the defending champions settled down, they bounced back, reeling in 12 consecutive points to take a 21-17 lead at the end of the first quarter.
Tai Lee San, the top scorer with 16 points, and Chow Siao Foong combined to hit all of Selangor's 14 points in the second quarter as Johor staged a remarkable comeback.
Johor refused to be intimidated by the star studded Selangor lineup and caught up with their rivals at 33-33.
Only a last gasp Siao Foong effort ensured Selangor went in at halftime with a slim 35-33 advantage.
Johor took charge briefly at 38-37 in the third quarter before Selangor turned on the power to pull away to the title.
“It is a wonderful victory for Selangor as Johor forced us to bring out our best form in the final,” said Selangor coach Woon Wai Mun.
“The players have been together for several years both at national and state levels.
“As such, they have excellent understanding. That was the key point to success,” he added.
In the fight for the third placing in the men's category, Johor got their act together at the right time to overcome Selangor 71-59 in a highly entertaining match.
In the women's third placing playoff, Perak clinched the bronze medal with a tight 57-51 victory over Kuala Lumpur.
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