Verve Club prevailed in a closely fought contest with the PRG Eagles 87-84.
Both teams came into the match fresh off huge victories the night before and carried their momentum into the match with Verve Club facing a rejuvenated PRG Eagles in a key contest to determine the final standings of the preliminary round of the 2017 Malaysia Pro League.
The PRG Eagles opted to rest key locals, Ma Chee Kheun and Ryan Liaw, choosing to call on Choo Wei Hong, Chin Zhi Shin, and Tong Wen Keong, all of whom were rested during the last game. Verve Club were still missing the services of captain Wee Chuan Chian who sat out for the second day in a row.
American Daniel Camps got it rolling early for Verve, opening the scoring with a three pointer before fellow American, Patrick Sanders, replied with a beautiful stepback jumper for the Eagles. Verve utilized the athleticism and physical prowess of their imports Chadrack Lufile and Camps, racing to an early 9-4 lead.
The Eagles would then go on a 10-0 run off baskets from McClain and three pointers from Heng Yee Tong and Patrick Sanders, giving them their first lead of the game before a Lufile jumper and a three pointer from Verve veteran shooter Lee Chien Chung tied the game. PRG began to center their game around their quick youngsters, Kelvin Law and Heng, whose chemistry on offense and defense saw them close out the quarter with one three pointer apiece, ending at 24-16 in favor of the Eagles.
Big Canadian Lufile looked to take control of the game for Verve in the second quarter, starting off with an impressive stepback three pointer before Yek Liang Chun replied with one of his own for the Eagles. It would be a close back and forth quarter between both teams as baskets were traded quickly.
Verve took the slight advantage towards the end of the quarter with some inspiring play by Lee including a great assist to Lufile to bring the deficit to one towards the end. Lee finally tied the game for Verve late in the second quarter with five straight points. The score at the half was even at 40-40
Lee would continue his scoring run to begin the third with an easy layup giving Verve the lead. It would remain close once again for the rest of the quarter as both teams traded baskets throughout the period and kept things close. Daniel Camps led the way for Verve with 10 points, pouring in five athletic baskets, going hard to the rim on each effort.
In a surprising move by the Eagles, the team deployed an all local lineup for the final four minutes of the quarter, catching Verve by surprise as they were not able to make the necessary adjustments to counter the unexpected line up. The Eagles closed the quarter with a 67-64 lead after an alley-oop layup was made from Tong Wen Keong to Yek Liang Chun.
PRG began the fourth quarter again with an all local line up and had the early momentum going with a Chin Zhi Shin jumper extending the lead to five. The Eagles’ largest lead of the fourth came at the 6:05 mark through Choo Wei Hong’s basket after a great assist from Tong. Verve kept going and were relentless at chipping away the lead through Lufile and Camp who punished a lack of an inside presence on defense for the Eagles.
Verve’s persistence finally paid off as back to back three pointers from both new players for the weekend were made, Soo Eng Heng and Benjamin Sim finally gave them the lead at the 3:17 mark. Verve would not surrender the lead as both Heng and Yim Shen Hao missed two opportunities to tie the game for the Eagles in the closing moments. The final score would be 87-84 in favor of Verve who put themselves in a strong position to qualify for the semifinals outright.
In an evenly matched game, the strategy by Coach Britt Carlo Reroma of the Eagles to deploy an all local line up in attempt to disrupt the defensive flow of Verve did not pay off in the end as the local line up failed to hold onto the lead.
Player of the Game
Chadrack Lufile played the entire 40 minutes for Verve Club, racking in 32 points and 17 rebounds in a stellar effort both on offense and defense. His versatile offensive game, both in the paint and from the outside, made it difficult for Eagles to contain the big Canadian.
Verve 87: Lufile 32, Camps 21, Lee 16, Sim 7, Soo 5, Gan 4, Heh 2
Eagles 84: Sanders 20, McClain 14, Yek 13 ,Heng 11, Chin 11, Law 5, Choo 3, Tong 2, Yim 2, Thea 2, Ong 1