Big pow-wow, ending the first game with a punch and sealed it with a big win. That’s the way how you start the league with a strong message.

The weekend blockbuster first game between Westports Malaysia Dragons and Mono Vampire brought out one of the best performance in the league so far despite just barely two weeks from the season opener.

The eighth season of the Asean Basketball League (ABL) expanded further with nine teams across Southeast Asian countries as well as China, Hong Kong and Taiwan as part of the franchise promises much excitement right from the start.

Barely hours away to the Dragons’ first home game and second match of the season, newcomer Chong Son Kung Fu of China sets foot in Kuala Lumpur in the first meet with the Malaysian team at MABA Stadium.

Dubbed as the strong contender for the crown against the defending champion Hong Kong Eastern, the Dragons are expected to give all out this season to prove their worth as one of the two pioneers in ABL.

Moving into the third week of the season, Chong Son Kung Fu will be looking to contest for their third winning streak against Malaysia Dragons in this round of match in Kuala Lumpur. Kung Fu won two matches previously against Formosa Dreamers (86-59) and Singapore Slingers (83-59).

Keeping opponents below 60 points

It is not that easy to tackle Kung Fu with two big men in the court like Anthony Tucker and Justin Howard. Despite the circumstances, it is not impossible for the Dragons to take on Kung Fu.

Photo by ABL

Photo by ABL

Kung Fu managed to keep their opponents below the 60-point mark in the past two weeks against Dreamers and Slingers, dominating much of the possession and baskets.

The first-time Chinese team will not give any other opponents a chance to overtake their lead.

Tucker is also the fastest player in the ABL to reach a triple-double, averaging 24.5 points, 10 rebounds and 7.5 assists per game.

As for the former ABL Defensive Player, Justin Howard averaged 21.5 points, 14.5 rebounds and 4 assists per game. Fil-Am Caelan Tiongson also showed his command as the rookie heritage on the court in the previous match against Dreamers with 16 points.

The ‘Real Acid’ test

The opening game in Bangkok was a thrilling game for the Dragons – but that was just the appetiser for the remaining 19 games in the preliminary round of ABL.

With nine teams on board, the Dragons must maintain a strong, definitive control throughout the prelims or risk the chance to qualify for the playoffs this season.

Photo by Kuk Thew | ABL

Photo by Kuk Thew | ABL

Setting forth with a clear vision this year, head coach Christopher Thomas strongly believes this season is all about “Just Us” mentality to forge a concrete direction in the ABL.

The whole team from the bench to the court rallied throughout the 50-minute thriller game against Mono last weekend is a testament to their strong start.

As the saying goes, when you start with a punch, you end it with a strong blow to your opponent to win the battle.

Photo by Kuk Thew | ABL

Photo by Kuk Thew | ABL

The ‘real acid’ test against Chong Son Kung Fu will put the Dragons to another challenge: to win their second winning streak in their very first home court game in front of the fans. Stakes are higher although they do have the home court advantage.

It is still too early to gauge the true strength of the Dragons from the previous game in Bangkok and the first test with the full roster team after the signing of Curtis Washington will be the wild card factor against Kung Fu.

Nonetheless, experienced veteran heritage imports Reil Cervantes and Patrick Cabahug alongside team captain John Ng and fellow veterans Loh Shee Fai will be among the pillars for the Dragons this season.

Battling through tonnes of adversity builds strong resilience among the players in the Dragons.

Westports Malaysia Dragons will play against Chong Son Kung Fu on November 29 (Wednesday) at 8.30PM, MABA Stadium Kuala Lumpur.

by Norman Goh