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Barracudas go down fighting

Chris Garnett proved to be an instant impact after top scoring for the Barracudas and tied for the game with 23 points against the Patriots in Manila yesterday. Picture: Agency
Monday, October 4, 2010

THE Brunei Barracudas fell to the Philippine Patriots 71-62 in their Asean Basketball League (ABL) season opener yesterday, a creditable result against the defending champions which gives the Bruneians cause for optimism.

For the Brunei team to come up with a win in head coach Ozell Wells' first match in charge was never going to be an easy task, especially since his men only had a little over two weeks to gel prior to the game at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig, the Philippines.

But the nine-point loss was less than most had expected, taking into account the Patriots had won all 11 of their home games last season.

In stark contrast to their five competitors, the Barracudas only managed one tune-up game before yesterday's match, a 88-64 loss at the hands of Smart Gilas of the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) on Thursday.

Joining the Barracudas only a few days ago, American Chris Garnett proved to be an instant impact after top scoring for the team and tied for the game with 23 points, while compatriot Chris Commons poured in 15 points.

Asean imports Bryan Faundo chipped in 11, Kevin White added 10 and local player Esmond Tan contributed three.

The Patriots led for most of the game, albeit with just a 21-20 advantage at the end of the first quarter. They extended their lead to eight points (39-31) at the end of the half and were up by seven (54-47) heading into the final stanza.

Still on a losing streak against the Patriots in Manila, yesterday's result was the Barracudas' third defeat in the Philippines capital after falling 70-56 in December and 87-65 in January.

They did, however, surprise the Filipinos 95-70 when they met in Brunei in December the first time the Sultanate had beaten the region's powerhouse in the sport.

American import Anthony Johnson tied Garnett in the scoring charts with 23 points for the home side yesterday.

The other half of the American duo, Donald Little, added 11 points. Erwin Sta Maria and Junjun Cabatu contributed nine points each for the Patriots, while Allein Malicsi and Egay Billiones each had five points to their name.

Playing the titleholders twice in their opening three games they next take to the court together on Oct 16 in Brunei the Barracudas will no doubt be hoping for another 'mother of all victories' in their first home game of the season.

The Barracudas next match is against the Thailand Slammers at the Nimibutr National Stadium in Bangkok next Saturday.

Yesterday's other game saw the Singapore Slingers get their campaign off to a winning start after squeaking past last year's defeated finalists Satria Muda BritAma 94-93 at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.

The season opener on Saturday night was a Chris Kuete inspired 79-74 overtime win for the Thailand Slammers over the KL Dragons in Bangkok.

The match was tied at 67-67 at the end of regulation, after which the former Dragons import scored nine crucial points, eventually ending the game with 31.The Brunei Times

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