Game two of the MPL’S opening day saw new-look Verve Club pick up a dominating 99-75 victory over the young Penang Stallions, who with an average age of 19 , are merely looking for player development in this year’s Malaysia Pro League.
The first quarter was a fast-paced game with the Stallions looking to use their youth to play a quick run-and-gun style with some success against the slightly more senior players of Verve Club. The opening quarter ended with a slim 22-21 lead for Verve Club, highlighted by 10 points from veteran Lee Chien Chung, nicknamed the Malaysian Curry, splashing home three 3-point shots. The Stallions relied heavily on their Filipino imports Dexter Zamora and Jhaphz Bautista, who combined, took more than half of the shots for the team.
The second quarter saw Verve Club start to gain momentum by executing a strong zone defense which forced the Stallions into settling for many challenged shots that refused to fall. Lee continued his scoring run for Verve and led all scorers at the half with 17 points. Using a mix of well executed transition offense and good ball movement led by Wee Chuan Chin, Verve extended the lead to 18 points to close out the first half.
Verve started the third quarter with a 7-0 run, forcing turnovers to quickly extend the lead to 25. American Daniel Camps drove to the basket for a thunderous dunk midway through the third, but the Stallions were unfazed and tried their best to cut the deficit by shooting a barrage of threes, converting on 4 in a row with, three of which coming from top scorer, Jayson Lee. Verve were equally hot from the beyond the arc, making three to close out the third quarter. Wee Chuan Chin hit one, while two were made in a row by Fong Yen Yee, helping Verve extend their lead to 21 at the end of the third, 79-58.
The Stallions increased their pace to start off the deciding quarter as they desperately tried to cut their deficit, coming as close as 14 at one point. However, Verve kept their cool, running their offense, remaining calm in the face of multiple full court presses employed by the Stallions. Lee Chien Chung finished the game with a 3-pointer, giving Verve the victory by a final of 99-75.
The Stallions lack of height and decision to go without American imports led to a huge rebounding deficit, only hauling 38 against Verve’s 69.
Player of the Game
Lee Chien Chung led all scorers with 27 points, including six 3-pointers and showed his strength by scoring several baskets in the paint as well. Lee’s 27 points nearly tied Verve imports Chadrack Lufile and Daniel Camps, who combined for 28 points.
Verve 99 :- Lee 27, Lufile 15, Wee 14, Camps 13, Fong 11, Teng 5, Gan 5, Liew 4, Tan 3, Kwan 2
Stalions 75:- J.Lee 21, S.Lee 12, Bautista 11, Zamora 9, Ong 6, Sim 5, Lim 5, Ooi 4, Tan 2