New League, New Rules, Same Champ: Satria Muda
In a season of change, the National Basketball League had a very familiar ending.
Satria Muda Britama called on all its big-game experience to beat the Citra Lestari Surabaya Knights 67-50 in the NBL Grand Final in Surabaya late on Sunday. It was Satria Muda’s fifth consecutive domestic title and first in the new-look league.
“This is incredible,” said coach Fictor Roring, who steered Satria Muda to its sixth title overall since the professional league’s inception in 2003.
“We always play for victory, for the title. That’s what Satria Muda has always been about.”
The Jakarta powerhouse entered the season having won four straight championships under the old Indonesian Basketball League banner.
When a new group took over the league last year and revamped it to form the NBL, new rules were instituted in the hopes of creating parity.
During the final at a jam-packed DBL Arena, however, Fictor’s players made an emphatic point — there is no one out there with the talent or experience to dethrone them.
“All the clubs prepared very well for this season, making the competition tougher. That’s why we had to push ourselves to work even harder,” said Fictor, who won his third title as the Satria Muda coach.
“My focus has been to keep the squad hungry for more titles.”
Satria Muda finished the first quarter trailing 16-13 but quickly found its shooting touch and built a 38-29 advantage heading into halftime.
CLS fell further behind in the second half as Satria Muda kept making its shots, while shutting down its opponents on the defensive end.
Satria Muda forward Amin Prihantono went four-of-10 from three-point range to finish with 16 points. Christian Ronaldo Sitepu added 13, while Ronny Gunawan chipped in with eight points and 10 rebounds.
Forward Rachmad Febri Utomo was the lone CLS player to score in double-digits, finishing with a game-high 18 points.
Satria Muda began the season with two straight losses before kicking it up a gear and reeling off a 16-game winning streak.
Fictor’s squad saw that run end when it lost 71-60 to Pelita Jaya Esia, but it would not lose another game.
CLS coach Amran said that despite the loss, he was proud of his team, which was appearing in its first-ever final.
He said his players could find some consolation in having beaten title favorite Pelita Jaya in the semifinals.
“We played well in the final and during the entire season,” he said. “And we staged a good fight against Satria Muda, so I’m still proud of this season’s achievements.”
In the game for third place, Pelita Jaya came back from a 13-point halftime deficit to beat Dell Aspac 62-61.
Meanwhile, NBL commissioner Azrul Ananda said the league had risen to a “higher level” this season.
“More fans came to the stadiums. To see 5,500 spectators on the final day is a great improvement,” Azrul said.
“I think we managed to lift the league and we’ll be working harder in the future to move to the next level.”