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THE national basketball team went down fighting 83-57 to a much stronger Hong Kong side for their second straight loss yesterday in Group B of the Third China-Asean Men's Basketball Invitational tournament at Pingguo County, Guangxi, China.

Ben Sim had the game-high to lead the national squad with 20 points and 14 rebounds for his double-double.

Marjomar Aying was the only other player in double figures with 10 points and filled up other sections of the stats sheet with seven rebounds and five steals before fouling out in the fourth quarter.

So Sheung Ying topscored for Hong Kong with 14 points and 14 rebounds to record a double-double while Au Yeung Ching Pong and Chan Siu Wing added 12 and 10 points respectively in the victory.

Brunei only managed to tie with Hong Kong 2-2 in the first minute of the opening quarter.

Hong Kong led throughout the match and the Sultanate came closest at 44-40 in the third quarter before their opponents called a timeout that killed the momentum.

Brunei were also not helped by foul trouble to their key players including their tallest player, 6ft 6in Zainul Ashyraf Hj Hussin, who contributed nine points and nine rebounds in the game, sitting out for much of the match.

The game ended with a buzzer-beating dunk with two seconds to go by Hong Kong's Lau Tung Leung that summed up the victory.

The biggest factor was that Brunei went nil from downtown missing all 12 of their attempts from behind the arc and playmaker Don Mordeno, who had seven points and five steals, suffered a deep cut to his right hand in the third period that slowed him down.

'The other team were just better than us. We were right there to get the match but we don't have the manpower to sustain it,' said Kevin Reece, the national basketball coach, during an interview with The Brunei Times, yesterday.

'We just try to do our best in these games. We have achieved more good points than bad especially that we're not turning the ball over that much and players know their roles,' added the 50-year-old.

'The players competed well but foul trouble really made it difficult for us to gain any momentum,' continued the American.

Reece was once again impressed with the defensive effort shown by the national cagers.

'It was excellent and it sort of gave our opponents a scare but they would manage to counter each time,' said Reece.

'In turn, it's good that we managed to break their press as well when they did it to us early in the third quarter,' added the Los Angeles native.

The national cagers will next face Vietnam tomorrow in their final group match.

courtesy of BRUNEI TIMES

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