FIVE TAKEAWAYS FROM THE GAME
Too much Ryan Moss.
The worth of Ryan Moss for Hong Kong Eastern stretches far beyond the numbers on a stat sheet. Though he did notch a respectable double-double, finishing with 15 points and 15 rebounds on 53 percent shooting from the field, it was his presence occupying the paint and acting as the home team’s last line of defense that deserves the most praise. The big man established himself early on, already notching double figures in two categories by halftime, while swatting away just about anyone from the Kung Fu that tried to challenge him near the rim. The biggest help for his performance was his ability to avoid getting into early foul trouble, as that has plagued his floor time throughout the season. With no shortages of scoring options on Eastern, having a guy like Moss who is willing to take care of all the dirty work with no complaint will go a long way as the games get tougher.
Elliot turns it up in the second half.
Credit the defensive efforts of Mikh McKinney and Anthony Tucker for doing a pretty good job of slowing down and making life tough for the Eastern world import all night long. Marcus Elliot struggled to find his mark early on in the game, as he only had three points (all from free throws) was 0-of-11 from the field, including going 0-of-5 from three at the end of the first half. As the home team started to pull away in the third quarter, much of the credit goes to the resurgence of Elliot, as the guard attacked the rim and was finally able to knock down some deep shots, which included a 4-point play. Though he could have been more efficient, the end result was a typical game you’d expect out of the American, as he nearly notched another triple-double with 20 points, nine rebounds, and eight assists.
Kung Fu imports need help.
We’re all pretty aware of Chongson’s reliance on its starters, particularly, its import players, but in their matchup with Eastern, it just goes to show how much the team misses the presence of Guo Kai. Against other teams, the Kung Fu can get by just on the strength of their imports, but going up against the league’s top team, and having those imports have relatively off-nights, more support is definitely needed. Anthony Tucker was able to keep the game within striking distance, especially going into the half as he drilled two much-needed long balls half a minute, and McKinney was also able to chip in on occasion, however, Howard’s night was hit with some foul trouble and Tiongson was stuck with having to defend the much bigger Standhardinger, which is already a tall-task in itself. Yongxuan Luo received 21 minutes off the bench, but couldn’t do much, as went 2-of-8 from the field and 1-of-6 from the perimeter. That’s with wide-open looks. Two other players did see game action, combining for 14 minutes, but were only able to produce a single point between Chongren He and Shuai Song.
Bad shooting from both sides.
The game wasn’t exactly pretty, as many of the usual suspects on both teams struggled to put the ball in the basket early on. The result was a low-scoring first half, with the home team taking a slight two point advantage at 39-37. In the first half, both Hong Kong Eastern and Chongson Kung Fu had near identical shooting numbers. That’s near identical bad shooting numbers. The visitors were just a percent better at 33 (14-of-42) as opposed to to home team’s 32 (15-of-46), and both were equal from long-range, going 3-of-16 for 18 percent. Luckily for Eastern, their shooting improved and the team finished at 40 percent overall from the field, while the Kung Fu didn’t fare much better than how they did in the opening half, finishing with the same mark of 33 percent overall for the game.
Only a small sample size.
In what might have been the most anticipated matchup of the season so far, pitting the top two teams in the league against each one another for their first meeting of four, the game was competitive throughout, but didn’t exactly live up to the hype and offer as much excitement as some of the league’s other games thus far. With Alab Pilipinas creeping up in the rankings and making its case for one of the top two teams, how the next three games play out between Eastern and Kung Fu should only get more exciting down the road and still be considered top-billing as more pressure is built-up.