After an up-and-down regular season, Hong Kong Eastern stunned the defending champion San Miguel Alab Pilipinas with a first round sweep in the ASEAN Basketball League (ABL) quarterfinals.
Aside from the usual contribution from the imports, it was the local shooters who stepped up big in both games. Lau Tsz Lai had an efficient outings of shooting over 60% (7/11) beyond the arc, while team captain Lee Ki added 18 points to help his team build a comfortable lead in Game 2 at home.
“It was big. We have known that they can shoot like this and they have been doing it for three years. All I can say is hard works pay off,” said resident import Marcus Elliott, who recognizes that the locals’ performance became the decisive factor in their victories.
Although O’ Darian Bassett only returned to the team shortly before the playoffs after injury, he had been a headache to the opposition. The American point guard managed to record 40% of field goals since returning, scoring 29 and 28 points, respectively, during the quarterfinals series against Alab Pilipinas.
“(The) injury made me more focused on each game, mentally. I just continued to work on my game even though I was injured,” said Bassett.
Basset also credit the team’s impressive performance to the coaching staff, saying, “We just follow coaches’ strategies of each game.”
Eastern will be facing the Singapore Slingers in the upcoming semifinals series as a lower-seeded team. However, the Hong Kong squad had pulled off two victories against their rivals during the past season, giving them a mental edge.
“I feel good, I like how we match up with them,” said Elliott with confidence. Both teams have been fighting back and forth since the addition of Eastern to ABL few years ago.
“We had some great games against them (Slingers) in the past three seasons, it should be a good series,” he added.
As far as Bassett is concerned, he will go against every opponents the same approach, and that is playing with his heart out. “I don’t care who we play against, you still have to grab and play no matter what’s on the paper.”
The ABL semifinals series between the Slingers and Eastern opens on the 12th of April in OCBC Arena, Singapore, before moving to Hong Kong on the 17th for Game Two.
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