2019 MPL D League Day 16 Recap (12/5/19)
Game Day 16 of the MPL Development League (D-League) delivered a triple header that had more playoff implications than intended. First off Miri Firehorse completed their regular season with their fourth straight win to all but seal their playoff spot while Kuching Lord Tiger blitzed Speed Hunters to give themselves a huge boost. A slumping Titijaya then got back to winning ways but not before surviving a massive scare against winless GoStrong.
Miri Firehorse 84 VAG 74
The Firehorse could be forgiven if they thought they had this easy. After all, they really needed to not lose and they’re bound to make the playoffs regardless.
VAG however had nothing to lose and they came to play and really took the fight to their opponents as they raced off to an early 19-17 first quarter lead.
The Firehorse were struggling to get shots up from deep making only 3-12 in the second period but had better transition play as they slowly found their rhythm to lead 38-34 at halftime.
VAG however not quite done yet and once again clawed their way back to 53-54 to leave Firehorse looking on nervously as the fourth period loomed.
But the Sarawakians finally came up big in the fourth period as they tore through VAG on the back of some big clutch plays from John Tang and Jason Gan who had 11 and 10 points respectively in the quarter.
John would lead the scoring for Firehorse with a final tally o 22 points but veteran Jason was the big difference maker with a double-double of 15 points and 12 rebounds including 4-5 from three point range.
The Firehorse bench also stepped up when needed with Chew Yun Sheng going hot with 14 markers and Josh Wong extending his good run with 10 points.
VAG on the other hand were led by Tan Kim Yeow with 19 points while Tan Ching Wei finished with 15 markers.
The win means Firehorse finished the regular season with a 5-5 record and have sealed their spot in the playoffs regardless of what happens in Week Seven.
VAG meanwhile drop to 1-7 and are formally eliminated from the race with two matches remaining.
Player of the Game: Jason Gan Hong Hoong (15 points, 12 rebounds, 4 steals, 2 assists)
Veteran touch: After struggling for his shot all season, Jason showed that he is still lock and loaded with the big triples that mattered.
Kuching Lord Tiger 91 Speed Hunters 67
This was a crucial match that could spell the end for whichever team that came up short.
And Lord Tiger, having beaten Titijaya a day earlier, were brimming with confidence as they ripped through Speed Hunters’ defence for a 24-9 first quarter lead.
Speed Hunters, who were missing a couple of players through injury, were definitely not their usual feisty selves as they looked shell-shocked and the gap quickly extended to 44-25 at halftime.
With Andy Jong striking gold with almost every touch and Tiong Ing Kun enjoying a barnstorming game, Lord Tiger continued to ramp up the pressure as they led 63-41 by the end of the third period.
Speed Hunters finally looked revved up in the fourth period as they attempted to overturn a 26-point lead.
But Lord Tiger were not letting slip another huge lead this time and they duly slammed the brakes on Speed Hunters to pick up a very resounding win.
Ing Kun had a breakout game for Lord Tiger with 23 points and 11 rebounds while Andy continued to show great form with 23 markers as well.
The win improved their record for the season to 3-4 and they can determine their own fate for the playoffs in their last three matches.
For Speed Hunters, captain Chong Koon Wei led the scoring with 14 points while Yeong Hi Yih dropped 13 markers.
But the defeat is a huge blow to Speed Hunters’ playoff chase as they fall to 3-5 for the season.
They now have a mountain to climb as they face Titijaya (May 17) and the Westports Malaysia Dragons (May 18) in their last two matches.
Player of the Game: Tiong Ing Kun (23 points, 11 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals, 3 blocks)
Playoff factor: Lord Tiger control their own destiny and only need 2 wins from their remaining 3 matches to make the cut.
Titijaya 87 GoStrong 81
It’s been a bad week for Titijaya to say the least. They started the week on a 4-2 record and were very much in contention to battle for one of the top two seeds.
However they fell apart against Lord Tiger and were unwillingly dragged into a battle for the playoffs.
And they nearly shot themselves in the foot as they struggled to get going against an already eliminated GoStrong.
The Subang team deserved full credit as they came to fight for pride and really rattled Titijaya by outscoring them in the second period to go into the halftime break tied 43-all.
Iman Faidhi Azman has been GoStrong’s best player all season and he continued that showing as the minnows kept it close 64-65 in the third period.
Veteran Kwan Jo Ee however delivered when it mattered most for Titijaya as they stepped it up to cross the finish line albeit in a nervous manner.
Jo Ee would finish with 20 points and 11 rebounds for Titijaya while another veteran – Chuk Wai Hong put up 16 points.
Syahrul Ridzuan Rosli and Soong Kah An both got into double figures as well, scoring 15 apiece.
The win improved Titijaya’s record to 5-3 but they still need to win their remaining games to secure their playoff spot.
For GoStrong, Iman had a game-high 24 points and 11 rebounds while Fauzan Abdul Aziz and Avinaash Vasu both popped up with 15 each.
GoStrong are now 0-8 for the season but will take heart from this performance as they look to end the season on a positive note.
Player of the Game: Kwan Jo Ee (20 points, 11 rebounds)
Playoff factor: Titijaya have control of their own destiny but they will look to rack up wins in their last two matches to avoid the complications of a countback.
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