Regal retain league title as Winling fail to fire

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 01 July, 1998, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 01 July, 1998, 12:00am

There were whistles galore, game stoppages and petty arguments but in the end Hong Kong giants Regal did enough to seal their third straight Hong Kong men's A1 League Championship by beating arch-rivals Winling 88-71 in the play-off final at MacPherson Stadium last night.

Regal had old scores to settle after losing to Winling twice this season, including a defeat in the the Seapower Invitational Cup final four weeks ago, but the team who have dominated the Hong Kong basketball scene for the past four years came good in the season's most important domestic fixture.

'The league is the most important title for us because it determines who represents Hong Kong in the ABC [Asian Basketball Confederation] Champions' Cup. This makes up for all the other things that we failed to do [this season],' said Regal's veteran American import John Spencer.

'A lot of people came to see us tonight hoping that we would lose because we have been dominating the game here for so long. But we played a great game and we stayed focused.' The game was interrupted at least three times as teams argued over the officiating.

First Spencer was thought to have fouled out early in the second half, but red-faced officials had to reverse their decision.

Then there was a further five-minute delay as Regal and match officials argued over the interpretation of the rules.

Regal's new American import Mike Cumberland was adjudged to committed a foul when he knocked the ball off Winling's Bryan Bachner, just as he was about to lay up his shot.

Regal argued that under international rules, the ball can indeed be knocked off before the it touches the rim. Match officials admitted their mistake and allowed the game to continue.

Regal dominated the game from the onset as they established a 51-37 half-time lead thanks to Cumberland, who scored 16 points in a frenetic first half.

While Winling's Adonis Jordan and Wong Chi-wai continued to be a threat in offence, Regal were always in control with Cumberland adding another eight points in the second half and Strickland chipping in with six points in the last quarter to make the result beyond doubt.

Meanwhile, Seapower edged Wideway Textile 75-73 to snatch third place in the league.