A revamped Wolf Warriors team will be looking to make great strides in the upcoming 2019-20 season of the ASEAN Basketball League (ABL).
The Zhuhai-based club struggled mightily last year and only managed to snag two victories in 26 contests as they finished at the bottom of the standings during their debut season.
As they are set to enter their second go around in the league, team president and acting general manager Joaquim Lobo believes there is nowhere to go but up, vowing to leave no stone unturned as they look to bring the team up to respectability.
First on Lobo’s agenda was retaining standout local players Cai Chen and Cris Shentu as foundations for the team. Second was installing new head coach Todd Purves, who previously led the Indonesia Warriors to the ABL title in 2012.
The team president gave Purves free reign as far as building their roster, handing him full jurisdiction on which players he wanted to work with. The American head coach promptly selected forward Julian Boyd, recent title-winning guard Douglas Herring, and former two-time ABL champion and long-time league veteran Steven Thomas.
“Coming off a 2-24 season, it’s not realistic to say we are [going to] compete for the championship, but we think we can establish a foundation that can grow on. So I’m bringing guys that are physically and mentally tough and unselfish.”
Herring is coming off a championship win with the CLS Knights Indonesia, as he helped the Surabaya-based club outlast the Singapore Slingers in five games with his tenacity and scoring ability.
“Doug exceeded my expectation. I know he is a great defensive player, I’m gonna put him into a position to use his skill set. His basketball IQ is off the chart, really understands the game and also a great leader on the court,” remarked Purves.
“I give the credit to Mr. Lobo for allowing me to pick the players I want to establish the mentality,” he continued, adding he wanted to instill a winning attitude with the team from the get-go. “Julian [Boyd] has won championships in his last three years as well. He is a wonderful, high-character player that I enjoy working together [with].”
Speaking of players he enjoys working with, Purves is also reuniting with menacing big man Steven Thomas. Nicknamed ‘The Demon,’ the 6-foot-9 center is a force in the paint and also a former Defensive Player of the Year awardee.
While things are looking up for the Wolf Warriors, they will face another challenge as they are grouped with tough East Asian squads Macau Black Bears, Hong Kong Eastern, Formosa Dreamers, and newcomers Fubon Braves.
“Real competitors always want to play against the best, so the fact that we are in a strong conference, it’s welcoming to me. Macau, Fubon, Formosa are all very good teams. That’s going to be a real challenge for us. We look forward to the challenge and that’s how you find out how good you are,” Purves continued.
“I think we can get a playoff spot, and when you make the playoffs, who knows what can happen from there. We are really about the process and creating the foundation and framework. Our focus every day is just doing things the right way to be a better team, and winning will take care of itself.”
The Wolf Warriors are set to open their second ABL season with a six-game homestand, beginning November 23 against the neighboring Macau Black Bears.
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