Friday, February 20, 2009

300 G3: Lucky 300?

Scrappers, both of them (300 and Griffins), but in the end it all boiled down to individual pieces of skill between the two players-to-watch, Michael of 300 and Gim Hoong of Griffins. Whose star would shine the brightest, and whose would fade in comparison?

In the opening minutes it appeared to be all 300, who took the initiative right from the start. Captain Michael, as usual, could already be seen covering every inch of the court. And whenever Griffins regained the ball, they simply presented it right back to 300's ever-improving defensive partnership of Sonia and June.

So it was no surprise when, after Griffins were reduced to four for somewhat inconspicuous slashing called, 300 took the lead through none other than their top scorer, Michael. His low shot beat keeper Amos and sneaked into the bottom right side of the goal.

Griffins had finally gotten the wake-up call they needed, and they responded in the best possible way, by scoring after 300 failed to clear their lines. Gim Hoong, who had the ball in the dangerous and crowded centre, checked his shot and fooled Michael in the process. Then with a neat turn, he drove the ball past unsighted keeper Soon Khai to level the scorelines and dampen 300's soaring confidence.

That goal was a sucker-punch for 300 and it seemed that there was no better time for Griffins to quickly put another past 300. However, Griffins looked to be satisfied with getting back to level terms and settled into their early match languor again.

Griffin's scorer Gim Hoong almost went from hero to villain after he was sent out for slashing, but Griffins held on to frustrate 300 and ended the half all level at 1-1.

In the second half, both teams sprang out of the blocks immediately, contesting every ball that was up for grabs and putting muscle into every challenge. Even the girls were inspired; Ruth of Griffins going through Roselyn as if she weren't there and knocking her out of the court, in her quest for the ball.

Of course, the referees would stand none of that nonsense.

A very Kuan Yang-esque shot from a freehit saw 300 go one up again and Michael cementing his position at the top of the scorer's charts.

Griffins upped the tempo of the game as 300 got both slightly complacent and tired. They appeared to have the upper hand when Julian was sent off for incorrect distance, but trust Captain Michael to come flying in, take the ball up to the right corner and hold it there for a long, long time.

Also getting two Griffins sent off for slashing.

And suddenly, Griffins' advantage was overturned. It was now 300 who outnumbered them by four to three. So Coach Jason decided to take this opportunity to rest Megan and Michael rather than increase their lead, a decision that was greeted with surprise by the crowd who was urging him to send the double-M's on.

If not for good fortune and reflexes by Soon Khai, Coach Jason's decision could have gone the wrong way altogether. Griffins, in the last five minutes that seemed to last for eternity, resorted to whacking the ball up high from deep inside their half then sending all five men to chase for it.

This proved very effective as it penned 300 inside their own half. But Griffins spurned more than half the chances that came away, often the culprit being Brandon who would send his shots flying up into the basketball board.

And so when the final whistle went, 300 could finally breathe a collective sigh of relief for having snatched all two points in a match whose outcome could have been so different.

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