Cagers on verge of long-awaited medal

NAYPYIDAW - Sometimes, even giants shed tears.

And, so it was, as the waterworks flowed freely after the Singapore men's basketball team beat Indonesia 62-48 at the Zayar Thiri Indoor Stadium yesterday afternoon.

With matches against minnows Cambodia (today) and hosts Myanmar (tomorrow) still to come, they know the job is not done yet.

But, having emerged from matches against the top-four teams the Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia with two wins, Singapore now have a good chance to pick up a bronze medal.

If Thailand beat Malaysia tomorrow as expected, then Singapore's basketballers, who average 1.90-metre in height, should go on to pick up their first medal since their only bronze in 1979.

The significance of this potential medal was not lost on the team.

Even as 1.91m forward Lim Shengyu posed in a post-match photo with his teammates and Mr Lawrence Wong, Acting Minister for Culture, Community and Youth, the 23-year-old just couldn't stop clutching the national flag and crying.

"This was the biggest game of my life," said the National University of Singapore environmental engineering undergraduate, who scored eight points.

"I know Singapore basketball has not won a SEA Games medal for so long, but we have worked so hard and we did not come here just to make up the numbers.

"After these two wins, I just feel it is our time."

Although both teams were feeling the nerves of this crucial match, it was Indonesia who raced to a 6-0 lead in the first quarter.

But Singapore gradually grew in confidence and some superb long-range shooting - they outscored Indonesia 10 to four from around the three-point arc - allowed the Republic to establish a 31-18 lead at half-time.

Shooting guard Larry Liew led the way with four three-pointers, while point guard Wong Wei Long also got a game-high 14 points.

Indonesia managed to narrow the gap to just 51-47 in the final quarter, but that was as close as they got as Singapore pulled away to a convincing victory.

Get The New Paper for more stories.