2019 MPL D League Quarter Finals Recap (25/5/19)
Welcome to the playoffs of the MPL Development League (D-League). This is where teams get serious and the quality of the action goes up a level.
And it’s been a hell of a start to the playoffs as seeds tumble, first with sixth seeds Kuching Lord Tiger knocking out third seeds Titijaya with walk-off buzzer beater by Maegen Mahadevan.
That was soon followed by fifth seeds Miri Firehorse producing one of their finest performances to send fourth seeds Westports Malaysia Dragons down the exit ramp as the East Malaysian pride stood up to be counted.
Kuching Lord Tiger 74 Titijaya 73
Syahrul Ridzuan Rosli and Titijaya will feel very hard done by this result. Especially for Syahrul.
The 21-year-old was voted by his peers and the coaches of the D-League teams as the season MVP after putting up a superb season average of 16.8PPG, 9.1RPG, 3.2APG and 2.8SPG.
But Lord Tiger and Maegen Mahadevan in particular had other ideas on the day as they turned party poopers with the latter putting a walk-off buzzer beater with 2.5 seconds left on the clock.
Its hard to say that Lord Tiger didn’t deserve the win as they fought hard after abysmal start in which Titijaya roared to a 22-10 first quarter lead.
A huge second quarter by Lord Tiger in which they completely outscored and outplayed Titijaya saw them lead 43-38 at halftime.
They somehow held on to their lead in the third period despite Titijaya regaining the momentum thanks to a 10-point spurt by Kwan Jo Ee.
A clutch showing by Tiong Ing Kun in the fourth, in which he knocked down three triples, had them inching towards the finish line.
But Titijaya’s veterans came to their rescue first with Ho Yeow Loong sinking a late three ball before Jo Ee gave them a 73-72 lead following a three-point play.
And just when Titijaya looked like they had done enough to secure the win, up stepped Maegen with his heroics.
The big man wriggled free from the watchful eyes of Chuk Wai Hong to receive an inbound pass from Lee Joon Kang and made the shot just as the clock went off as the Lord Tiger bench erupted in delight.
It was quite a satisfying moment for Maegen himself as his participation in the D-League so far has mostly been limited due to foul trouble and he was also largely anonymous in today’s proceedings.
However Maegen would only finish with 5 points and 9 rebounds, and it was the efforts of Ing Kun and Andy Jong, who had 14 markers each, which kept them in the hunt.
For Titijaya, it was a bittersweet finish for Syahrul who also scored a game-high 21 points and grabbed 9 boards to go along with his MVP trophy.
But it will mean for nothing as Titijaya once again fell short when it mattered.
Lord Tiger meanwhile will go on to meet second seeds Red Baron Youth in the semi-finals on Sunday.
Player of the Game: Tiong Ing Kun (14 points, 3 steals)
Clutch factor: Ing Kun is becoming one of the best clutch shooter in the league and his three shots from downtown in the fourth period helped Lord Tiger in a huge way.
Miri Firehorse 96 Westports Malaysia Dragons 86
This is another result that was quite unexpected to say the least.
For starters, the Dragons had already beaten the Firehorse once during the regular season and held a sizeable 9-point lead at one point.
But they really came unstuck against the red-hot shooting of Eddie Wong and the impressive sixth man performance of one Chew Yun Sheng.
The game showed all the signs of a high-scoring affair as Eddie, who has been in a mini slump of sorts, got down to business by firing off three triples in the first period to help the East Malaysian team to a 27-25 lead.
The Dragons however clawed their way back to a 48-43 halftime lead thanks to efforts from a pumped up Connor Chua and seniors Chin Cheng Wah and Leong Kar Fatt.
That’s when Firehorse decided to shake things up and head coach Lau Bik Ing threw on the 18-year-old Yun Sheng after the interval.
The 1.72m guard, who barely played in the first two quarters, instantly repaid the coach’s faith as he put up 8 big points which revitalised the whole team as they closed out the third quarter with a 70-68 lead.
The tide now in their favour, Firehorse finally broke away from the Dragons as they held a huge 14-point lead at one point.
The Dragons tried their best to stem the bleed with Cheng Wah showing his scoring prowess.
But it was the Yun Sheng show as he dropped 11 points in the fourth period as the Firehorse grabbed a sensational upset.
Eddie, who was 6-12 from three point range, led the Firehorse scoring with 26 points while Yun Sheng impressive second half display saw him finish with 19 markers. John Tang and Alvin Lau completed the double digit scoring with 16 and 11 points respectively.
Its certainly quite the turnaround for Firehorse who looked like they were going to miss the playoffs at one point after going 1-5 down in the season.
But they are now on a 5-game streak and will certainly fancy their chances against top seeds KL Dragons in the semi-finals.
For the Westports Dragons, Cheng Wah produced his finest showing with 28 points and 11 rebounds including 5-8 from three point zone while Kar Fatt had 16 markers and Connor finished with 11.
It is however a sobering finish for the Dragons as they end their season on a two game losing streak.
Player of the Game: Chew Yun Sheng (19 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals)
Bench factor: The Dragons’ bench outscored Firehorse 39-30 but it Yun Sheng’s sixth man performance that mattered most.
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