Story by Joseph Lee/Red Sports. Photos by Clara Yuan/Red Sports
NUS University Town, Friday, September 6, 2014 — Nanyang Technological University (NTU) pulled off an upset after a huge last quarter effort to beat defending champions Singapore Institute of Management (SIM) 71–68 in the Singapore University Games (SUniG) Basketball Championship.
Lim Wai Sian (#14) and Gustav Ingberg (#41) of NTU scored a joint game-high of 17 points while Zhou Zhen Jie (#3) of SIM scored a team-high of 14 points.
The two teams have met each other on three previous occasions during the 2014 Institute-Varsity-Polytechnic (IVP) Games and 2013 SUniG, and SIM emerged victorious in all of those matches. However, this match was vastly different as both teams were missing their key players. Wong Wei Long of NTU and Tan Chin Hong of SIM were not in action due to training commitments with the Singapore Slingers.
SIM came out of the gates with a strong effort as they mounted a 9–0 run in the first few minutes of the game, forcing NTU to call a timeout in hopes of trying to regroup. After the timeout, NTU came back with a three-pointer by Sean Hoo (NTU #30) to start the momentum for NTU.
SIM continued attacking the basket by continually exploiting weaknesses in the NTU defence, allowing them to find many open shots under the basket and capitalizing on many fast break attempts.
Though SIM continually converted their baskets, NTU did not back down. A foul on Lim Wai Sian (NTU #14) as he was going to the basket allowed him an opportunity for a three-point play. Another three-pointer from Chen Jia Hong (NTU #3) halfway through the quarter allowed NTU to reduce the deficit to 10–15.
For the remainder of the first quarter, SIM continued to pile the pressure on NTU which rewarded them with many steals and fast break opportunities. Most of these steals came from Richard Neo (SIM #2) who also led the charge on the fast break attempts.
There were many spark of brilliance from NTU. Three blocks by Brendan Klovekorn (NTU #15) allowed his team to keep SIM within touching distance. A buzzer-beating layup by Jason Wong (SIM #17) gave SIM a 25–19 lead at the end of the first quarter.
In the second quarter, SIM came out looking like a different team. They let NTU find a lot more space for open shots and lay-ups. NTU managed a quick 8–0 run within the opening two minutes of the quarter to claim a three-point, 28–25, lead, forcing an SIM timeout.
After the timeout, SIM tried to get the momentum going again. After two contested attempts under the basket by Travis Leung (SIM #11), he finally got it on the third attempt to score SIM’s first two points of the quarter. After trading a few baskets, SIM managed to reclaim a 34–32 lead on a putback by Chen Yi (SIM #35).
After matching each other point for point with two minutes to go on the clock, a fast break by Kua Hiong Yong (NTU #10) levelled the score at 39 apiece. In the final possession of the half, Lim Wai Sian (NTU #14) drove to the basket and put the shot up just before the buzzer, but he was fouled on the play. He managed to make the two free throws to give NTU a slim 41–39 lead at the end of the first half.
At the start of the second half, SIM were more aggressive, pressuring the NTU players on plays and guarding them closely, not allowing them much space to put up a shot. This paid off for SIM as they managed to draw an offensive foul, three steals and one block to allow them to mount a 13–4 run with two minutes left in the quarter.
Andrew Zee (NTU #21) helped the team cut the deficit by drawing a foul while going to the basket and he completed a three-point play. SIM responded with a three-point play of their own through Gordon Ho (SIM #20). The quarter eventually ended with SIM taking a 10-point, 59–49, lead.
Entering the final quarter, it looked like SIM, with their 10-point lead, would be the eventual victors to make it four straight wins over NTU. But NTU were determined to put up a fight against SIM till the very last minute.
The quarter started out a little shaky for both teams as they missed their open shots and wasted their fast break attempts. NTU opened the scoring for the quarter with a three-pointer by Sean Hoo (NTU #30) that helped NTU spark a 10–2 run, reducing the deficit to two points (59–61). With six minutes to go on the clock, SIM called a timeout in hopes of regaining their momentum which they had in the third quarter.
After the timeout, SIM committed five fouls within the span of three minutes. NTU managed to convert five out of those nine free throws, which included a three-point play, to go on a 10–3 run, giving NTU the 69–66 lead with two minutes to go in the game.
SIM tried to level the score but Zhou Zhen Jie’s (SIM #3) three-pointer was off the mark. NTU tried to extend their lead on the other end but were unable to convert their shots from under the basket while being guarded closely by the SIM defence.
Gordon Ho (SIM #20) managed to find space between the NTU defence and his easy lay-up put SIM within one point (68–69) of NTU with under a minute to go. In the next transition, SIM carelessly fouled Sean (NTU #30) as he was going up to the basket. Sean (NTU #30) managed to convert two points from the charity stripe to put NTU up by three points (71–68). SIM then called a timeout with 27 seconds left on the clock.
After the timeout, the inbound pass by SIM was nearly intercepted by the NTU defense. As NTU piled the pressure on as the clock was winding down. SIM found it hard to find an open man to take the final shot with NTU guarding all of them closely. Chen Yi (SIM #35) managed to find himself some space to throw the ball up just as the buzzer sounded but the ball just fell short of the hoop.
“We were definitely under pressure entering the game but our coach told us that we had nothing to lose but everything to win, so we went all out and did a very good job today,” said Andrew Zee, the captain of NTU. “Though we lapsed on defense for awhile, I think we managed to hustle for the ball, convert on their turnovers and put up good shots.”
“The title is definitely up for anybody, but I think we would stand a good chance if we continue to keep up this good work,” added Andrew Zee.
NTU now have a 2–0 win-loss record, while SIM are 0–1. NTU will next face National University of Singapore (NUS) on September 12 at University Town Sports Hall 1. Tip-off is at 8:30 p.m.
SIM will next face Singapore Management University (SMU) on September 16 at University Town Sports Hall 1. Tip off is at 7 p.m.
In the earlier match, SMU managed to upset NUS by beating them 59–58.
Scoring by Quarters
SIM vs NTU
1st Quarter: 25–19
2nd Quarter: 14–22 (39–41)
3rd Quarter: 20–8 (59–49)
4th Quarter: 9–22 (68–71)
Zhou Zhen Jie (#3) – 14 points (1 x 3-pointer)
Chen Yi (#35) – 14 points (1 x 3-pointer)
Richard Neo (#2) – 12 points (2 x 3-pointer)
Lim Wai Sian (#14) – 17 points
Gustav Ingberg (#41) – 17 points
Sean Hoo (#30) – 11 points (1 x 3-pointer)
Richard Neo (#2), Zhou Zhen Jie (#3), Loh Huihan (#10), Travis Leung (#11), Davis Ong (#13), Bryan Aw (#14), Jason Wong (#17), Gordon Ho (#20), Lim Yong Teck (#22), Jason Siow (#24), Nicholas Peck (#32), Koh Wei Jie (#33), Chen Yi (#35), Darren Lee (#55), Vimal (#69)
Billy Lang (#1), Chen Jia Hong (#3), Tan Bo Yao (#5), Nicholas Handrian (#6), Choon Hao Wei (#7), Pek Jia Rong (#9), Kua Hiong Yong (#10), Donovan Tan (#11), Lim Wai Sian (#14), Brendan Klovekorn (#15), Andrew Zee (#21), Sean Hoo (#30), Koh Chee Siang (#37), Gustav Ingberg (#41), Swagato Sen (#55)
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