School sports

School Sports: AJC boys win 1st basketball title since 1989

Hwa Chong Institution's Keith Png (in white), attempting a shot over Edmund Leong and Mohamad Hilman of Anderson Junior College. AJC earned a 75-67 triumph to win their first Schools National A Division basketball championship since 1989.
Hwa Chong Institution's Keith Png (in white), attempting a shot over Edmund Leong and Mohamad Hilman of Anderson Junior College. AJC earned a 75-67 triumph to win their first Schools National A Division basketball championship since 1989.ST PHOTO: CHEW SENG KIM

After 28 long years, Anderson Junior College (AJC) finally won its first Schools National A Division boys' basketball title since 1989 at Jurong East Sports Hall yesterday.

In the girls' final, Raffles Institution (RI) defeated Dunman High School (DHS) 64-38 to win back-to-back titles.

AJC - which finished third last year - finally broke its barren spell with a 75-67 victory over traditional powerhouse Hwa Chong Institution (HCI).

"We felt a sense of accomplishment, mainly for our teacher-in-charge, Mr Tan Ser Yang. It's his last day here (in AJC) before transferring out," said captain Leslie Chen, 18.

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"It was a proud moment (when the buzzer sounded), a lot of the older teachers have been waiting a long time for the title. I'm glad we managed to win it for them."

Both teams were locked in a tight game, with neither team able to open a double-digit lead.

The first quarter ended with AJC leading 22-21, but the second quarter saw HCI take the lead and force a timeout from AJC.

The pattern continued with HCI taking a 43-35 lead into half time. AJC tied things up at 43-all midway through the third quarter, forcing HCI into a timeout of their own.

Late in the third quarter, Vernen Lim of HCI continued his hot streak with a pair of three pointers, paving the way for a 61-50 HCI lead.

Leslie said: "It was depressing to see him (Vernen) on fire, but we had to maintain our composure and continue to fight hard."

For AJC coach Lim Kwee Chai, 48, an urgent switch of tactics was needed. He revealed: "We changed our defence from man-to-man to a zone defence. Their three-point shooter (Vernen) was on form, so we had to change our defence."

With the change of strategy, AJC surged ahead to secure the win.

Lim, who has been coaching AJC since 2000, said: "I feel very proud for them (the boys), they were very disciplined and played well.

"I'm really happy on winning the title after coming in second and third many times. In training they work really hard and give 100 per cent."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 27, 2017, with the headline 'AJC boys win 1st basketball title since 1989'. Print Edition | Subscribe