Damaging Deng dominates in Ipswich victory
THE Ipswich Force were able to outlast the Sunshine Coast Phoenix when the two teams battled it out in the National Basketball League (NBL1) North Men’s action over this past weekend.
The contest took place at Maroochydore Stadium on Sunday afternoon, a matchup that the Phoenix were expected to win. They sat well ahead in the standings, and had performed well in their games leading into Sunday.
However, things did not go to plan as the Force managed to get on top of the opposition throughout the course of the game. After a first half that saw momentum tipping Sunshine Coast’s way slightly, the Force took control of the game in the third and further extended the margin in the final term to claim a double-digit win.
It was their fifth win of the year, and will go a long way in their goal of keeping up with the top half of the ladder moving forward. On the other hand, the Phoenix suffered their fourth loss of the 2022 season, and will need to bounce back if they are to remain amongst the contenders come season’s end.
Ipswich’s win was largely set up by the efforts of Majok Deng, who did it all for the Force in their triumph. He was a big spark in the second half when the game was up for grabs and the visitors got on top. Deng ended up stuffing the stat sheet to finish with 31 points, 12 rebounds and five assists.
He led the way on the scoring front, producing a game-high total and proving a reliable source of offence for the Force. 12 of his 18 attempts from the field found the bottom of the net, producing baskets from inside and outside the arc.
To pair his inside work with a couple of shots from downtown demonstrated how dangerous Deng can be if given the opportunity, and unfortunately for the Phoenix, they were on the receiving end of that.
As all good players do, Deng was also able to make his way to the free throw line, nailing five of his seven attempts from the charity stripe. The Sunshine Coast defence did not have any answers for his work with ball in hand, and were forced to foul when caught out of position.
Deng’s 12 rebounds were the most of any player on the court as well, hitting the skies with intent and pulling down some crucial boards. Three of these came on the offensive end and gave his side another shot at scoring.
Finally, he was also able to take advantage of the defence overcommitting to him at times, and use his smarts to find teammates in scoring positions. It came down to quick thinking and execution, and Deng was able to fire on both fronts on his way to five dimes, topping off a magnificent performance.