The 2016-2017 season proved to be a painful one for Westports Malaysia Dragons, missing out on the playoffs for the first time in their seven seasons of participation in the ASEAN Basketball League. Bringing back their core locals along with some key import additions, the Dragons have set themselves a goal of returning to the playoffs for the 2017-2018 season.


ICYMI

Part of the reason why Westports failed to make the playoffs last season was due to a lineup adjustment, where, for the first time in ABL history, the team opted to hire one less import than allowed, opting for only three with the goal of giving extra minutes to local players in preparation for the SEA Games which were being held in Malaysia over the summer. The move did not pay dividends as Malaysia finished a disappointing fifth, unable to achieve the target of a podium finish.

The Dragons will go into the upcoming season on the heels of the recently concluded Malaysia Pro League, the first national level league the country has had in four years, where they finished second under the banner of the ‘KL Dragons Basketball Academy.’ The league provided an opportunity to be a useful scouting ground for the Dragons in evaluating local talent for the upcoming ABL season, with the Dragons signing youngsters Phan Wee Chen and Heng Yee Tong while also bringing back veteran forward, John Ng Yeo Seng who proved he was still able to compete at a high level of basketball despite missing the last two ABL seasons for the Dragons.


THREE POINTS

  The Dragons have signed two world imports with exceptional basketball backgrounds.

Solomon Jones, a 33 year old center, has played close to 300 games during his eight seasons in the NBA while Marcus Marshall is a 23 year old combo guard that is fresh off leading the University of Nevada (NCAA D1) to the top position of the Mountain West Conference in their 16/17 season. Marshall led Nevada in scoring at 19.7 PPG.

  The Dragons have also decided to fill the heritage imports quota for the season, bringing in two Filipino imports.

Reil Cervantes is a 31 year old forward with six years of experience in the PBA and last saw action with Blackwater Elite. Patrick Cabahug, the 32 year old swingman, will be returning for his second stint on the Dragons as he played for them from 2010 to 2013, averaging 12 PPG.

  Retaining the services of key locals from the previous season was a necessity.

The local line up will be heavily experienced and includes only two rookies, Phan and Heng. The team is bringing back John Ng Yeo Seng, who missed the last two ABL seasons, but brings a wealth of experience and leadership back onto the young team. Ng played 75 games for the Dragons from 2009 to 2014, averaging 11.9 PPG and 5 RPG in the recent Malaysia Pro League.


KEY ADDITION(S)

PHOTO CREDIT: JEROME MIRON // USA TODAY SPORTS


SOLOMON JONES

(Center, World Import)


   2017 Dominica Republic League Season Stats

4 Games | 9.0 PPG | 8.8 RPG | 1.3 APG | 33% FG | 1.3 STPG | 1.0 TOPG


KEY DEPARTURE(S)

PHOTO CREDIT: CHEN WS


JOSHUA MUNZON

(Guard/Forward, ASEAN Import)


   2016-2017 ABL Season Stats

19 Games | 19.4 PPG | 4.1 RPG | 3.1 APG | 3.2 STPG | 27% 3P | 3.3 TOPG


X-FACTOR

PHOTO CREDIT: DAVID BECKER // GETTY IMAGES


MARCUS MARSHALL

(Guard, World Import)


   2017 NCAA Season Stats

35 Games | 19.7 PPG | 2.5 RPG | 3.7 APG | 115 3PM | 38% 3P | 0.9 STPG | 1.7 TOPG


LOCAL TO WATCH

PHOTO CREDIT: ONVISA THEWPHAINGARM


KUEK TIAN YUAN

(Forward)


   2016-2017 ABL Season Stats

16 Games | 7.1 PPG | 2.8 RPG | 0.3 APG | 51% FG | 39% 3P | 0.3 STPG | 1.1 TOPG


LATEST ROSTER

Head Coach: Christopher Thomas

Local: Kuek Tian Yuan (198 cm, 92 kg)

Local: Ma Chee Kheun (179 cm, 70 kg)

Local: Heng Yee Tong (178 cm, 70 kg)

Local: Teo Kok Hou (175 cm, 63 kg)

Local: John Ng Yeo Seng (192 cm, 103 kg)

Local: Phan Wee Chen (180 cm, 75 kg)

Local:Wong Yi Hou (190 cm, 80 kg)

Local: Ting Chun Hong (191 cm, 81 kg)

Local: Ivan Yeo (195 cm, 91 kg)

Local: Loh Shee Fai (192 cm, 90 kg)

ASEAN Import: Patrick Cabahug (186 cm, 86 kg)

ASEAN Import: Reil Cervantes (193 cm, 90 kg)

World Import: Marcus Marshall (190 cm, 94 kg)

World Import: Solomon Jones (208 cm, 106 kg)


BOTTOM LINE

The former champions look to bounce back after a disappointing 2016-2017 campaign, showing that they mean business with key signings both on imports and the local front. They will be led by returning American coach, Christopher Thomas, who will be in his second year as skipper and with a loaded lineup filled with many outside shooters, look to the Dragons to maintain their traditional run and gun offense as they look to burn their way back into the playoffs.