The Causeway Rivalry in Seaba: Malaysia squeaks past Singapore for first Seaba win
by rick olivares
When you talk about the Malaysia-Singapore match, any match, and in particular, this Seaba tussle, you have to count more than the statistical categories. You have to take into consideration the knees, elbows, floor burns, hip checks, and stare downs.
The two countries headed into their Monday night showdown at the Smart Araneta Coliseum winless, 0-2 for Singapore and 0-3 for Malaysia, and well, it is almost like it is for the championship.
“It’s a grudge match,” proclaimed Malaysian center Chan Kek Thai. “There’s bad blood between the two teams but in a figurative way.”
During the third period, Malaysia’s Ting Chun Hong threw an elbow at the nose of Kwek, prompting Singapore’s bench to rise up in protest.
With Singapore down a point, 31-30, with 3:30 left to play in the third period, Leon Kwek hip checked Malaysia’s Tin Chung Hong who attempted a three from the left corner pocket. Foul.
Two of three free throws swished, 33-30 lead by Malaysia.
And there were the numerous knees, elbows, and occasional knock down that peppered the entire 40 minutes.
“We didn’t expect any less,” said Kwek who couldn’t hide his disappointment after the game. “It’s Singapore versus Malaysia. So we expect a battle.”
The rivalry between the two neighboring countries has been intense since Singapore left the Malaysian Federation in 1965. The rivalry permeates and extends to everything – from the economy, tourism, culinary appreciation, and most especially to sport.
“We can lose to the Philippines by 50 or maybe even a hundred points, but not to Malaysia,” said one Singaporean player who requested anonymity. “And I am sure they feel the same way.”
For much of the match – Malaysia would get out to a considerable lead, Singapore would come knocking, then the former would weather the storm. With some rough stuff in between.
After Singapore’s Leon Kwek scored on a baseline drive to make it 43-41 with 26 seconds left, Malaysia’s Liaw Chee Huel was fouled and sent to the stripe for two free throws. He promptly missed both but Chan was able to pull down the offensive board. After taking a foul from Jorathon Cheok, the 34-year old split his free throws to give his side a three-point lead, meaning Singapore could either only draw level or come within a point.
Singapore flubbed their three-point attempt with 10.1 seconds left and Malaysia tacked on a free throw for the final point of the match.
After the final buzzer, Malaysia’s Chan let out a cry of joy. “At last,” he cried. “Am not sure if we got a win – finally. Maybe it’s beating Singapore.”
For now, the Malays have bragging rights. The next time they meet will be at the Sea Games.
|With Malaysia's Heng and Chan post-first win.|