The KL Dragons Basketball Academy were made to work for their 107-91 victory over the Penang Stallions who gave a spirited fight against the undefeated Dragons.
The Dragons, already securing the top position, were looking to end the preliminary round unbeaten.
The Stallions, coming of a grueling defeat the night before did not show any sign of fatigue as their quick attacks and persistent defense caught the Dragons off guard building their lead up to 20-11 led by two three pointers by their key local Jayson Lee.
The Dragons brought in key energy man Wan Chee Yuen who made an instant impact with four points cutting the deficit. Stallions would keep their cool for the rest of the quarter with big man Ong Wen Hong making a buzzer beater basket giving the Stallions a surprising 22-18 over the unbeaten Dragons. The Dragons shot a poor 29% from the field in the first.
The Stallions surprised the Dragons once again at the start of the second, keeping their composure to once again stretching the lead to eight off baskets from Jayson and Lim Yang Jie. The Dragons would then finally get their game going as they slowly chipped away the lead and finally took the lead from Fil-Am Kyle Toth’s first three pointer of the game at the 6:07 mark. It would a be a close quarter with both teams trading baskets until the end when Stallions fatigue and lack of height on the inside led to the Dragons punishing them in the paint and on the break. Dragons would go a 11-0 run to end the quarter led by Canadian, Daniel Eves with eight points. The score at the half was 48-37 in favor of the Dragons.
The Dragons started the quarter meaning business with the starting five being deployed at full force. Their experience and advantage in height allowed them to get numerous baskets inside the paint stretching the lead to 19 midway through the third. The Dragons checked out the entire starting line up at the 4:28 mark.
Led by Stallion Filipino import, Jhapz Bautista ,the Stallions stepped up their defense allowing only one field goal from the Dragons bench line up for the remainder of the quarter. Thanks to key baskets from Bautista and his Filipino compatriot, Dexter Zamora, the Stallions managed to cut the lead to nine finishing the third with the Dragons leading 76-67.
Coach Christopher Thomas of the Dragons was not pleased with his second string which allowed the Stallions to cut the lead and once again started the fourth with his starting five. The starting five finally found their shooting rhythm and with four three pointers, they quickly pushed the lead back to 20 for the Dragons. The Stallions did not relent and kept pushing forcing Coach Thomas to only take out the starting five at the 2:43 mark. The Stallions could not mount a significant run again, the buzzer ending with a Dragons 107-91 victory.
As a result of the lost, the Stallions finish fifth in preliminary round and are set to face the PRG Eagles next in an elimination game to qualify for the semi finals.
Jayson Lee shot eight three pointers for Stallions, giving him a total of 30 points making it the highest scoring performance for a local in the preliminary rounds of the MPL.
Player of the Game
Daniel Eves once again gave an impressive performance, with a near triple double performance of 39 points, 21 rebounds and 8 assists, providing much needed stability on a tough night for the Dragons who had 25 turnovers and shot only 52% from the free throw line.
Dragons 107: Eves 39, Toth 22, Ng 16, Phan 12, Edika 8, Wan 6, Tung 4
Stallions 91: Bautista 31, J. Lee 30, Zamora 11, Ong 7, Lim 4, Sim 3, Neoh 3, Kok 2