It was an intense battle for the Malaysian men’s basketball team tonight but in the end, they did just enough to score a narrow 76-73 win over Australia’s ACBA Dragons for  their third consecutive victory in the Maba International Basketball Invitation in Kuala Lumpur.

The national squad had a two point lead over the Aussie club side to end the first period with a close 19-17 lead. 

In the second quarter, both sides were exchanging punches as ACBA Dragons looked to overturn the advantage when they raced to a five-point gap (24-19) after three minutes.

The Malaysians then turned on the heat to regain their lead with a six-point cushion with two and a half minutes remaining. Australia, however, managed to reduce the deficit to level the score 35-all. Until the last five seconds of the midway point, Ting Chun Hong netted a three pointer to put a foot ahead of the Aussies (38-35).

In an evenly matched battle in the third quarter, the Australians stole back the lead with a six point difference (44-38). But the Malaysian managed to reduced the deficit by two to narrow the gap to a 51-49.

It was then 65-all in the final quarter with 20 seconds remaining.

In a five-minute extra time, both sides had a neck-to-neck one point difference in the final minute (74-73) with Malaysia in the lead. Malaysia then kept their nerves in order to net two free throws to make it a three-point lead with only three seconds to go.

The match ended 76-73.

“They were physically bigger. They managed to cover the court well and there weren’t a lot of opportunities to dribble in so I had to take my shots when I had the chance.

“Overall, I think it was a good performance by the team although we made some mistakes along the way,” said Wong Yi Hou, who was the topscorer for Malaysia with 23 points.

With both sides already qualified to the round robin finals of the tournament for first and second placing, they will have another go at each other again in the final day.

While Taiwan’s Chung Chou University and their counterpart Normal University will meet again for the third and fourth placing. Normal University won by a narrow 97-95 in a heated battle over extra time earlier today. – BY ALVIN OH

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