Dogged Winling see off Fukien

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 09 July, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 09 July, 2006, 12:00am

A determined Winling saved their best for last when they defeated Fukien in game five yesterday to capture the domestic A1 Division League title.

Playing in front of 2,000 fans packed into MacPherson Stadium in Mongkok, Winling led from early on to clinch a 74-68 victory in the decider of the best-of-five play-offs.

Having twice led the series after winning games one and three, Winling eventually sealed the title in emphatic style.

'It was just wonderful,' said delighted team manager Lam Chik-cheong, who last led Winling to the title when they completed a hat-trick from 2000-2002. 'All the players did an exceptionally good job. We were obviously the better side throughout this game and deserved the victory.'

Captain Poon Chi-ho said he did not have a good game but his teammates more than made up for it. 'Our teamwork paid off handsomely and every player worked magnificently for the victory,' said Poon, who won his first league title with Winling after joining the team three seasons ago. 'It feels so good to win the championship again.'

Winling were in control of the game from the moment they levelled the score at 15-15 midway through the first period. They led after the first quarter by 10 points, 25-15.

Fukien reduced the gap to six points by half-time when they were trailing 43-37.

Although Fukien succeeded in keeping Poon at bay - the Winling captain netted only 13 points - Winling's two youngsters, Yung Man-tak and Li Kiu-fung, rose to the challenge, scoring 32 points between them, while Matthew Jung also contributed 16 points.

Winling led 62-54 after the third period, but suffered a lapse of concentration when they were penalised for two technical fouls in the final stages. Fukien came within two points at 66-68 with two minutes left, but that was the best they could offer.

Li Wai-lun was off-target with his usually reliable jump shots in the last minute, while Choi Fong-yue also wasted two free throws.

The champions will be treated to a trip to Japan in August to watch the World Championships, according to Winling boss Hiu Yip-wing.