Yee Chun Leong
BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN
THE Beruang Blazers fended off Miri King Kong 95-87 to move into the final of the GRÂND Borneo Invitational Challenge last night.
They will face the unbeaten Kuching Lord Tiger, who cruised past Pontianak Vois 76-53 in the other last-four match up, in the title decider tonight at 9.45pm.
The Filipino duo of Raymar Jose and Jeff Viernes once again came up big for the Blazers at the Indoor Stadium of the Hassanal Bolkiah National Sports Complex in Berakas.
The former tallied a game-high of 40 points and hauled down 12 rebounds for a double-double while Viernes poured in 28 points in full 40 minutes of action.
Captain Ben Sim was the other in double figures with 13 points to his name.
On the other hand, John Foronda and Lau Bik Ing led the scoring charts for King Kong with 21 points apiece. The former also added a game-high of 17 rebounds.
The other Filipino player Pari Llagas added 20 points to a losing cause.
The Blazers carried a strong start to open up a 49-37 lead at halftime.
King Kong came out a different side after the interval and started out with an 8-0 run. They came to within a point at 51-50 after a trey by Tiong Ing Kiat just two minutes in.
His brother Ing Kun then tied the game for King Kong at 55-55 with another three-pointer two minutes later.
However, they suffered a blow after Foronda picked up a head injury while going to the basket with over two minutes to play.
The momentum shifted in the favour of the Blazers as they closed out the frame strongly to carry a 73-65 advantage into the final quarter.
The Blazers got back in front by double figures with Md Zainul Ashyraf Hj Hussin knocking down a jumpshot to start things off in the deciding period.
Foronda, despite having a bandage wrapped around his head, came back into the game with under eight minutes left.
King Kong then clawed their way back to within three points the next minute.
They got to as close as 81-79 midway through the stanza with Lau connecting on a three-pointer.
However, back-to-back turnovers prevented the Miri side from going in front.
Instead, the hosts made three consecutive baskets to go back up by eight points.
Ing Kun then gave King Kong a lifeline with a trey but Viernes replied with a long range shot of his own with two minutes left.
The Blazers were never really threatened after that as they ran down the clock on each possession enroute to victory.