Story by REDintern Daniel Yeo. Photos by Dylan Chua/Red Sports.

Justen Chiam (NV #11) elevates for a finger roll lay-up in transition. (Photo 1 © Dylan Chua/Red Sports)

Justen Chiam (NV #11) elevates for a finger roll lay-up in transition on his way to a game-high 16 points. (Photo 1 © Dylan Chua/Red Sports)

Choa Chu Kang Sports Hall, Friday, April 6, 2018 — In their quest for a third consecutive title, North Vista (NV) took Fairfield Methodist (FMS) out of the equation with a dominant performance in the National B Division Basketball Championship semi-final 68–47.

North Vista now advances to the championship game, where they will face familiar rivals in North Zone runner-up Presbyterian High. Fairfield will take on West Zone champs Unity Secondary in the third/fourth placing match.

A well-balanced scoring display from North Vista saw multiple players in double digits. Justen Chiam (NV #11) led North Vista with 16 points, while fellow starters Reuben David F Amado (NV #30) and Sim Yi Brenndon Ariffin (NV #5) scored 10 each. Off the bench, Damien Yau (NV #25) added 10 more to North Vista’s total.

For Fairfield, it once again saw Carl Belanger (FMS #22) take home top-scorer honours, with 14 points. Fellow big-man Jin Sheng De (FMS #15) scored 10 of his own, while swingman Chiam Ming Yao (FMS #1) scored 11.

As ten players stepped onto the hardwood, one could tell that Fairfield was the bigger team. They started two big-men in a traditional line-up, while North Vista placed their emphasis on speed and shooting by starting five guard-forwards.

And from the game’s onset, Fairfield’s size seemed to be working in their favour. North Vista was finding it difficult to rebound with both Carl (FMS #22) and Sheng De (FMS #15) crashing the offensive boards. Sheng De, especially, looked unguardable in the post, scoring eight of Fairfield’s 12 in the quarter.

When asked about Fairfield’s first quarter dominance in the paint, the North Vista team put forward their points: “It was quite hard to box them out, and blocking them was difficult, as our team is undersized.”

Nevertheless, North Vista unleashed their signature full-court press and double-teaming defence to keep them in the lead. They were scoring plenty on their fast-break opportunities, and both teams were moving the ball well in the half-court set. The first quarter ended 18–12 in North Vista’s favour.

The second began, and North Vista was pulling out all the stops, using some seldom-seen set plays in their offence in the hopes of generating better shots. But, despite this, North Vista would go on to be outscored in the quarter.

Perhaps this could have been attributed to some foul trouble. Early in the quarter, key players Justen (NV #11) and Reuben (NV #30) had both racked up three fouls, which sent them to the bench.

On the other hand, John Vannan (FMS #10), came off the bench and provided some instant scoring to help Fairfield cut into their deficit. It was simply a case of good defence, but better offence from both teams, especially Fairfield. The half ended with them down by just four points.

After being bullied in the post, especially in the first quarter, North Vista’s starting de facto big-man Dillon Ong (NV #9) came into the third quarter with something to prove. He scored a quick four points to start the half with a variety of post moves which would extend the North Vista lead.

In the subsequent minutes, North Vista would see their offensive production take a turn for the worse. With Fairfield steadily scoring, they needed to boost their offence and sent Justen (NV #11) and Reuben (NV #30) back into the fray with 5:30 remaining in the quarter.

It worked – the two of them then combined to score 11 of North Vista’s 19 in the quarter, giving them a sizable 14-point lead as the final quarter approached.

North Vista carried over this offensive momentum to pour on 21 more in the final quarter, and it turned into a full-fledged blowout.

With less than three minutes remaining, and Fairfield down by 21, Fairfield opted to put in their starters. Jeremy Graves (FMS #33) clarified the questions in our heads with a rallying cry to his team: “Don’t give up!”

Although the loss was inevitable, Fairfield was doing all in their power to stay in the game – opting for a full-court press, double-teaming the ball-handler, hustling for loose balls, running hard on fast-breaks, drawing fouls from the opponent – captain Jonathan Ang (FMS #9) took us through what the team was thinking: “Never give up, just keep on fighting. Even if we lose, we go out with a bang.”

With that, the game ended – North Vista burying Fairfield 68–47 to move into the final game of the season for the fourth straight year.

With the team placing an emphasis on not being over-confident, Shayan Medhi Nejad (NV #2) talked to us about the team’s thought process as they approach the finals: “We need to do our best, although we’ve beaten them (Presbyterian High) once (in the North Zone final), it doesn’t mean we’ll beat them again.”, with Sim Yi (NV #5) adding: “We need to give them our all.”

The championship game will be held at OCBC Arena on April 12. The third/fourth game will be held at Tampines Hub on April 9. Both games will tip-off at 2.45pm.

Scoring by Quarter
North Vista v Fairfield Methodist
1st Q: 18–12
2nd Q: 10–12 (28–24)
3rd Q: 19–9 (47–33)
4th Q: 21–14 (68–47)

Leading Scorers
North Vista

Justen Chiam (#11) – 16 points
Reuben David F Amado (#30) – 10 points
Sim Yi Brenndon Ariffin (#5) – 10 points
Damien Yau (#25) – 10 points

Fairfield Methodist
Carl Belanger (#22) – 14 points
Chiam Ming Yao (#1) – 11 points
Jin Sheng De (#15) – 10 points

North Vista Roster
Shayan Medhi Nejad (#2), Chan Qi Feng (#3), Vincent Gerard Embay Bancod (#4), Sim Yi Brenndon Ariffin (#5), Chace Ng Kai Le (#6), Amos Tai (#7), Dillon Ong Yan Kai (#9), Arnald Foo Wei Bin (#10), Justen Chiam (#11), Jayson Yanoria (#24), Damien Yau (#25), Reuben David F Amado (#30)

Fairfield Methodist Roster
Chiam Ming Yao (#1), Ang Tze Haw (#4), Jonathan Ang (#9), John Vannan (#10), Russell Lim (#12), Jin Sheng De (#15), Carl Belanger (#22), Clarence Soh (#27), Tan Wen Jun (#31), Jeremy Graves (#33), David Chong (#36)

More photos next page