The Westports Malaysia Dragons will take a one month break from the eighth season of the ABL with a 1-2 record. The coming break is due to the Agong Cup, an annual all-locals tournament taking place from the 18th to 25th of December this month. All local players from the team will be engaged in training with their local teams leading up to the tournament.
The Dragons had a troubled preseason as a majority of their local players were already in preparations for the Agong Cup even before the start of the ABL season, limiting the team to only a week’s worth of full squad practices prior to their opening game against Mono Vampire on the 25th of November. They were also be rocked by world import, Solomon Jones, leaving the team due to personal reasons days before the season opener.
The shorthanded Dragons would pick up a double-overtime victory against Mono Vampire, 116-112, behind Marcus Marshall’s record breaking 60 points. Shortly after, they signed Curtis Washington to replace Jones, but fell at home to the unbeaten Chongson Kung Fu, 81-96, followed by rematch that resulted in a loss against Mono Vampire 90-107 (without Marshall who was rested due to a hamstring injury).
We spoke to the Deputy General Manager of the Malaysia Dragons, Shoghi Gan, to get his thoughts on the Dragons start to ABL8.
Q: What were the areas you were happy with to the start of the campaign?
SG: We are doing a lot better than previous seasons in taking care of the ball. We used to always be in the 15-20 turnover range, but in the first three games we averaged 10.5.
We have flashes of excellence from many different players. From the locals: Ting Chun Hong Ivan Yeo, Loh Shee Fai, Kuek Tian Yuan, Wong Yi Hou, and Teo Kok Hou have left their marks here and there in their own ways. John Ng has done a brilliant job captaining the team on the court and behind closed doors. Not much more I can say about Marcus Marshall’s Game 1 performance, but I can point out what a true professional he has been, coming in as a rookie, but still showing the maturity of a veteran.
I’m also quite happy with our offense. Although slightly inflated due to the double OT game, we are averaging 96 points per game, which is good for second in the league behind Mono Vampire. This is with one less import in 2-of-the-3 games. We managed to put up 81 points on Chongson Kungfu when no team has hit the 60 point mark on them yet.
They are a legit title contender with great individual and team defense and we were in the game till the 4th. In our second game against Mono, we were also in the game during the 4th. If luck swayed our way, not only on the court, but with what’s going on outside, with injuries and being down an import, I think it’s not too far-fetched to say that we could even be 3-0 at this point.
Q: What are the areas the team will need to look to improve on?
SG: We know we aren’t close to being where we need to be to contend for a championship. We are giving up way too many easy baskets and fast break points. We need more consistency on both ends of the floor. Players need to be more comfortable and let our offense flow more. We, management, could do a better job making better decisions and getting the team more prepared.
Q: Is there a message you would like to share with fans of the team?
SG: I know there are a lot of fans out there that want changes but these decisions have to make sense for the team. We are just three games in, going against some tough circumstances. But that’s not to say that we are not evaluating things. We have a few weeks off, but a grueling and tough January, we must be ready for.
The Dragons return to action on the road on the 3rd of January, 2018 against Tanduay Alab Pilipinas.