There was a sold-out crowd at the Jing Ying Nike All HK Schools Basketball Tournament 2018 finals, which took place at Southorn Stadium in Wan Chai on Sunday afternoon.
The tournament, which pits all HKSSF divisional champions against each other, is considered the one that determines the “best of the best” in Hong Kong.
In last year’s tournament, Ying Wa College pulled off a stunning upset in the final by defeating Diocesan Boys’ School (DBS) 72-70. However, DBS got their revenge against the defending champs in the semi-finals this year, with a thrilling 75-68 victory on Saturday. Meanwhile, the feisty Chong Gene Hang College (CGHC) made the tournament finals for the first time in more than 10 years after defeating Po Kok Secondary School in the semis, setting up a fantastic finals match-up.
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DBS got off to a strong start, appearing to be the more well-oiled machine.
Every pass and shot was purposeful, and CGHC could not deal with DBS’ dynamic duo, co-captains Marco Leung and Edison Yip.
Edison, the 17-year-old centre, made his presence felt immediately – scoring inside and blocking shots on defence. Meanwhile, the sharpshooting Marco was hitting 3s, driving to the basket while also setting up his teammates with nice passes.
DBS held a 20-point lead early in the first half, and it looked like CGHC was overmatched and there would be no chance of a competitive game; but the underdogs showed incredible heart and fought back in the second quarter to make it 39-32 at half-time. DBS, perhaps having thought the game was over, started getting careless. CGHC made the most of their chance with a number of fast-break points, to the crowd’s delight.
At the start of the second half, CGHC’s energy was still high. They reduced their deficit to just three points, and it seemed like a close fight was underway. Then, late in the third quarter, DBS finally knuckled back down, and a big run made it 65-52 at the end of the third.
An extremely dominant fourth quarter from DBS pushed the final score to 92-61. The co-captains accounted for over half of the DBS’ points; Marco scored 25 and Edison added 22.
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Both stars say they have their eyes on professional basketball after their secondary school careers are over.
“I don’t know why, but my shooting has been so terrible lately; yesterday in the semi-finals I was so missing so many shots,” said the 18-year-old Marco, who hopes to play in the Chinese Basketball Association some day. “So today, I made some adjustments to my shooting form and was able to hit a few more shots.”
He added that he felt DBS won the game because of their defence. “We were able to disrupt [CGHC’s] attack and force them into difficult shots. Overall, I’m just so happy because we won as a team.”
It may be easy to think DBS won because they have the most talent. But DBS head coach Lau Yu-lun – nicknamed “Cowboy” – reminded us that hard work and preparation is what allows them to perform so well year after year.
“We won this game because of [our] fitness. We employed a full-time fitness coach in preparation for this game, we knew it would be important for such a long game with a short clock,” he said.
He added that he was extremely proud, particularly of Form Six students like Marco and Edison.
“They are facing HKDSE examinations soon, yet they found the time to [attend] training. We are very grateful because we wouldn’t have been able to win if it wasn’t for them.”
Meanwhile, earlier in the day, the Heep Yunn School girls’ squad showed why they are nicknamed “The Dream Team” after they beat Chinese YMCA Secondary School 88-48 to take the girls’ championship. They were firing on all cylinders, hitting outside shots, locking down on defence, and flat-out dominating a very strong YMCA team.