Story by Dylan Chua/Red Sports. Photos by Chan Hua Zheng/Red Sports.
OCBC Arena, Thursday, April 12, 2018 — North Vista Secondary (NV) eked out a 55–54 victory over rivals Presbyterian High School (PHS) in the National B Division Basketball Championship final to clinch their third national title on the bounce, becoming the first school to complete the feat since Catholic High School won four in a row from 2006 to 2009.
Chan Qi Feng (NV #3) was named the Most Valuable Player (MVP) after putting up 14 points in his final game for North Vista.
“The three-peat was what really mattered. The MVP award was unexpected and it was a bonus to win it,” shared a delighted Qi Feng (NV #3).
It was redemption for the current batch of secondary four North Vista players, who did not make it past the second round of the North Zone C Division championship two years ago after losing to Presbyterian High. Presbyterian High went on to win the National C Division Basketball title in 2016.
Neither team managed to gain a strong foothold in the first half, with both schools matching each other basket for basket as Presbyterian High held a slim 32–30 advantage at halftime.
Jaron Ng (PHS #15) canned a three-pointer 21 seconds into the second half to put his team up 35-30, but that ultimately proved a false dawn for Presbyterian High, who are playing in the final for the first time since winning the title back in 2009.
A 14–0 North Vista scoring run followed, effectively swinging the game in favour of the two-time defending champions.
Presbyterian High kept fighting in the final quarter, even as captain Kovan Toh (PHS #5) admitted post-game that they were “tired” towards the end. Their efforts were rewarded as they thrice cut the deficit to a single point with just two minutes remaining in the game.
But Reuben David (NV #30) – who bagged MVP honors last year and who has been part of all three title-winning teams – had the final say.
The North Vista guard made the biggest defensive stop of the game when he stole the ball from Tang Kah Wai (PHS #10) with 13 seconds left, as the Presbyterian High forward was going for a fast break with his team down 54–55.
“My mind was blank. I just did whatever it took to win the title,” recalled Reuben David (NV #30).
North Vista calmly saw out the remainder of the game and celebrated jubilantly on the court after the final buzzer sounded, signalling their quest for a three-peat complete.
On what made the difference down the stretch, Justen Chiam (NV #11) said: “We were more composed throughout the game. We prepared well and were just taking it like any other game.”
Presbyterian High might have ended the season without the biggest prize on offer, but Kovan (PHS #5) credited his team for a job well done after they showed significant improvement throughout the season.
“I am proud of the team for the hard work we put in to get here,” said Kovan (PHS #5).
“Our 1-3-1 defensive scheme did not work against them (North Vista) in the North Zone final, but we used it to good effect today. We missed some defensive assignments towards the end but we won’t blame one another. We gave our all and that is what matters,” added Kovan (PHS #5).
Back in 2015, North Vista had suffered a heart-breaking 74–76 defeat to Dunman Secondary in the final to miss out on their first ever National B Division Basketball Championship crown.
They now have three titles in as many years and have gone a perfect 24–0 in the nationals during that stretch.
“It takes a lot of commitment and discipline to achieve this (three straight titles),” said Reuben David (NV #30).
The golden era of North Vista basketball has well and truly taken flight, and a chance to match the longest title-winning run in history beckons in 2019 for the ruthless Vikings.
Scoring by Quarter
Presbyterian High vs North Vista
1st Q: 17-15
2nd Q: 15-15 (32-30)
3rd Q: 5-14 (37-44)
4th Q: 17-11 (54-55)
Tang Kah Wai (#10) – 19 points
Aaron Chaw (#26) – 11 points
Kovan Toh (#5) – 10 points
Chan Qi Feng (#3) – 14 points
Dillon Ong (#9) – 13 points
Justen Chiam (#11) – 10 points
Presbyterian High Roster
Constantin Lim (#3), Ivan Kau (#4), Kovan Toh (#5), Thomas Lor (#7), Tang Kah Wai (#10), Foo Yong Ming (#12), Goh Yi Xiang (#13), Jaron Ng (#15), Dylan Lee (#20), Gifford Chua (#21), Aaron Chaw (#26), Reuben Ng (#35)
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)
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