Hong Kong find second wind to take third spot
Hong Kong players still need to improve their physical fitness despite overcoming a slow start to defeat Thailand Thew 72-60 in the third/fourth place play-off at the Asian Basketball Association (ABA) Cup last night. So said coach Kwong Wai-cheun after seeing his side struggle for two quarters before coming alive.
Playing in front of a 1,500 crowd at Southorn Stadium in Wan Chai, Hong Kong were still 33-28 down at the completion of the first half, but they came back strongly in the third quarter with a total 28 points, to which shooting guard Liang Man-hung contributed four three-pointers, and led 61-45.
The gap was just too big for Thailand Thew to make up as Hong Kong scored their second win over the Thais in five days after also defeating them 82-75 in the round-robin stage.
'We failed to keep focused in the opening stages, maybe because we were tired after playing for three days in a row in the round robin. Physically and mentally we were a bit tired,' said marksman Liang, who picked up a total of 21 points with six three pointers made. 'As our players lack height, we rely on speedy play and accurate long-range shooting, but we were nowhere near there in the first two quarters. But somehow we came out from the changing room like a new team - woken up and shaken up, and the third quarter made a big difference.'
Hong Kong coach Kwong, who will lead the same side at the Guangzhou Asian Games, said there was plenty of room for improvement.
'We are a newly set up team with many new faces such as Liang who have come through the ranks recently,' said the coach. 'We have to work hard on improving our team work, but more importantly our physical fitness must also be lifted tremendously, or we will not be able to keep up our speedy style of play, which is our biggest advantage as we lack height.'
The ABA Cup is the first senior tournament for Liang, 24, who now looks forward to the Asian Games in November while another newcomer, Chow Kin-wan, scored 17 points. Two other players - forward Fong Shing-yee and centre Tsoi Lung-tak - were also in double digits with 11 and 10 points respectively.
In the championship game, Malaysia All Star upset CBA side New Century of Dongguan 61-55 to win the four-team tournament.