Seapower stay in hunt for Senior Shield
FORMER champions Seapower kept alive hopes of regaining the Senior Shield title with a narrow one-point victory over Fukien in an exciting losers' pool match at the MacPherson Stadium last night.
Seapower, who completed the Shield and Division A1 League double two seasons ago in their freshmen year, led 43-34 at half-time but had to stave off a late rally by Fukien to win 88-87.
Fukien held a slight early lead but three three-pointers by American Bill Courtney in the 14th minute saw Seapower pulling ahead 32-26 and they ended the first half with a nine-point advantage.
It looked as though Seapower were heading for an easy victory when they extended their lead to 72-51 half-way through the second period, but their game suddenly went to pieces and Fukien started their comeback.
With James Jones and Steve Jackson finding their scoring touch, Fukien narrowed the gap to 69-79 with five minutes remaining.
They brought the match to a climax two minutes from time when they cut the deficit to two points, trailing 82-84.
A basket by Jones with only 50 seconds showing on the clock levelled the tally but Bryan Bachner quickly replied to put Seapower back into the lead.
Experienced Courtney converted two free throws to give Seapower a four-point buffer and it was enough to see them through although Mark Alessio netted a three pointer for Fukien in the dying seconds.
Courtney top-scored in the match with 36 points, including eight three-pointers, while Fukien's Jackson was also on target with 29 points.
Seapower will meet Suntex on Tuesday with the winners going through to the final against holders Seasonal, who remain the only unbeaten team in the double-elimination tournament.
Suntex triumphed when the two teams met in the winners' pool last week but Seapower coach Philip Chui Kam-cheung is confident they can turn the tables on their conquerors in the rematch.
''Bryan wasn't available when we last played Suntex and we should have a much steadier defence with him back in the squad now,'' said Chui. ''It will be a close match but we can win it.''