01 November, 2017
01 February, 2019
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5 things we learned from the day 4 of the FIBA Asia Cup 2021 Eastern Region Pre-Qualifiers

NONTHABURI (FIBA Asia Cup 2021 Eastern Region Pre-Qualifiers) – The first day of the second round at the FIBA Asia Cup 2021 Eastern Region Pre-Qualifiers was jam-packed with intense games, but one thing was clear: defense is what will get you through in this tournament.

Here are 5 things we learned in the fourth day at Stadium29, Thailand!

Battle of defensive stretches

The two most important sequences of today’s games were lengthy defensive stretches that allowed struggling offensive teams to rally for the victory.

In the first game of the day, Malaysia locked down Singapore for a 21-2 run to comeback from down by 14 points. They displayed their suffocating press once again and forced a handful of turnovers from Singapore’s backcourt before counterattacking in transition.

Indonesia had a similar stretch against Guam which kept them close against the strong newcomers to FIBA Asia. A 10-2 run in the middle of the third quarter saw Indonesia forcing tough shots out of Guam’s scorers and eventually led to a tied game.

However, it wouldn’t be enough as Guam fired back with their own lockdown sequence. Indonesia were left without a single field goal for nearly 10 minutes, ultimately falling into a 19-point gap and having to embrace the loss.

There is a reason coaches preach defense as the team's main priority and it is because it can pull your team through despite any offensive struggles. 

Never count Malaysia out

Malaysia stand undefeated after three games and if there’s something to take away from this winning streak, it’s to never count them out.

Coach Bryan Lester’s squad was shooting barely 30% headed into the final quarter against Singapore and it looked like they were about to endure another lost to their rival. The team rallied and cheered themselves on through each and every possession, which paid off in what was one of the more inspiring comeback runs in recent regional play.

With two tough games left against Thailand and Guam, Malaysia will probably come in as underdogs even with their undefeated record.

But whoever they will go up against, just never count them out just yet.

The depth of Thailand’s bench

With the threat of big games against Malaysia and Indonesia coming up, coach Douglas Marty decided to rest his some of his key starters in the game against Macau. It took some time to get loose, but the bench eventually recorded productive outings in the opportunity.

First time call-ups like Nopporn Saengtong (23 points and 12 rebounds) and Attapong Leelapipatkul (6 points, 8 rebounds, 6 assists, pictured above) enjoyed their extended playing time and could very well give coach Marty more pieces to play with in certain situations.

 Lean on Tai Wesley

Guam’s shooter, JP Cruz and Earnest Ross, combined for only 4-22 from downtown against Indonesia which meant that Guam had to find another way to get points on the board.

It was 32-year-old Tai Wesley’s turn to step up and he churned in a masterpiece of 19 points on 62% shooting with 2 three-pointers, 11 rebounds, and 3 assists. He continues to shine as one of the most well-rounded players in the entire tournament. Wesley is capable of knocking down the long ball, pounding down defenders in the post, and running the break with high efficiency.

Guam would still be a pretty good team without Wesley, but his inclusion to the squad puts them in elite status for this tournament.

Singapore’s guard play and veteran leadership

Singapore has an envious amount of young bright talents on their team, whether it is Leon Kwek, Delvin Goh, or Wong Zhong Han, all of whom had their moments in the game against Malaysia.

With that said, the presence of Larry Liew was severely missed especially in the last portion of the game. Not only is Liew a floor spacer with his long range shooting (2.3 3PM/G), he is the most experienced veteran on this team. The 25-year-old could have been a key piece in slowing down the pace and stopping Malaysia’s lengthy run ton end the game.

However, Singapore will learn from this experience and grow as team to watch out for in the future.