KUALA LUMPUR –Westports Malaysia Dragons were hoping to win their third game against Barsy Atyrau. Despite playing with a team of 9, they continue being understrength as Loh Shee Fai and key offensive player Joel Wright were absent from the game. With this, the Kazakhstani team were able to withstand their Dragonforce, beating them by 33 points at the 2016 FIBA Asia Champions Cup in Chenzhou, China, 11th October 2016.

Wright was not present from the game as he suffers from minor injuries from playing two full 40-minute games for two days in a row.

Dragons had a poor start, conceding 6 points to Barsy Atyrau before finally ending their spree at the 8th minute by a dunk by Skylar Spencer.

Amongst bad passes and misfires, 7 fouls were committed by the Malaysians in the first quarter, cutting their morale and giving way for the Kazakhstan team to win the quarter at 8-24.

Trailing behind by 16 points, Dragons made an attempt to draw near their opponents before half-time by better positioning themselves to allow for clearer shots.

However, the point difference from the first quarter proved too much to handle as they lost out by almost half of their opponents score by the end of the second quarter, 26-48.

Barsy Atyrau were converting half their shots (56%) into points while Malaysian Dragons were only 38% accurate at theirs. Averaging at 24 points per quarter, the Kazakhstani team were way above Dragons in points by the last quarter.

Suffering from knee tendinitis, defensive powerhouse Spencer was called back by Coach Thomas in the final quarter to allow him to rest and ensure he does not aggravate his injury even more.

“Sky has been my star player for this cup, proving his worth defensively and offensively. In terms of basketball, he’s wise beyond his years and I sometimes forget how young he is with the way he talks and directs our team on court,” expressed Coach Thomas about his 22-year-old center.

This move forced the Malaysian locals to rake up more shots from beyond the paint to compensate for it. That said, Dragons scored 20 points in the last quarter, more than they did in the first three quarters.

However the offensive force of Barsy Atyrau proved to be a challenge as they retaliated and manage to overcome Dragons’ second wind.

Barsy Atyrau’s power forward Pavel Micheev outshined the rest of his team with 30 points and 6 rebounds to win the game.

Captain Ma Chee Kheun scored 13 points in the game, second only to familiar face Kuek Tian Yuan at 15 points. Kuek finally rejoins his team for their third match and will be playing again in the following match.

Confident with his team, coach said “The players we have on our team are all very talented, and I could not be more blessed to be their coach. I cannot wait for the 6 weeks of preparations we have ahead of us to train and further improve their skills, to be able to shoot instinctively and react without overthinking.”

With 1 win and 2 losses, Barsy Atyrau climbs up the leaderboard leaving Westports Malaysia Dragons at the bottom with 3 defeats. The results of this match would mean the end for the Malaysians to qualify for the quarter finals.

Dragons will however be facing the Flying Tigers from Xinjiang, China for their final match in the group stages on 12 October 2016. The game will be held in Chenzhou Olympic Sports Centre Gymnasium.

The Xinjiang Flying Tigers are a professional basketball team from Ürümqi, Xinjiang in China. They compete in the North Division of the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA).

Founded in 1999, the Flying Tigers were in the finals during the 2004 and 2005 CBA Season. Although failing to win titles in their recent appearances in the 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2013 CBA Season, the team has made themselves known as one of the tougher teams to beat.

Xinjiang Flying Tigers, or China Kashgar as they are known in this competition are on top of the Group B leaderboards with a clean sweep of 3 wins in 3 matches.

96-69 against Al-Shorta, 108-79 win over Al-Ahli and a 29 point gap versus Barsy Atyrau, 97-68, proving they will be formidable team to take on next.