MACAU – Lance Stephenson took charge when it mattered most as favorite Liaoning edged Seoul SK Knights, 83-82, to win the East Asia League Terrific 12 championship before a big Sunday crowd at the Tap Seac Multisport Pavilion.
The 29-year-old Stephenson came through with 34 points, including five of the Flying Leopards’ final nine points inside the last two minutes of the tightly-fought final to steer the two-time CBA champions to the title and the $150,000 prize that goes with it.
The former NBA player shot 11-of-26 from the field, grabbed eight rebounds, and dished off four assists to emerge as the MVP of the week-long tournament.
Stephenson scored four straight points as the Flying Leopards, who trailed by as many as 10 in the second period, finally took the lead for good, 78-75.
But the Knights didn’t go down without a fight.
Aaron Haynes clustered five straight points to help the Knights trim the gap to its final tally before time ran out on the Korean ballclub.
Tunisian Salah Mejri had a solid 19-point, seven-rebound output for Liaoning, which also got 13 points from wingman Mingchen Cong.
Jameel Warney had a game-high 36 points and 17 rebounds for the Seoul SK Knights, who settled for the runner-up purse of $100,000.
Sun Hyung Kim led all local Knights with 11.
Liaoning (83) – Stephenson 34, Mejri 19, Cong 13, Gao 7, He 5, Liu 3, Li 2, Guo 0, Wang 0.
Seoul SK Knights (82) – Warney 36, Haynes 26, Kim 11, Jun An 4, M.S. Kim 3, G.W Kim 0, Choi 0.
Quarterscores: 20-27; 43-38; 61-57; 83-82.