First timer Formosa Dreamers gave a fright for the home team when they tied the game as much as six times, and as the clock finally buzzed to mark the end of the game, Westports Malaysia Dragons finally took their first home win.

Westports Malaysia Dragons took down the Chinese Taipei’s Formosa Dreamers by 10 points, 84-74. The Dragons finally ended their four slides, fresh from another meet on Friday against Mono Vampire.

The packed MABA Stadium saw tickets were sold out the night before the game with fans waiting in lines for the ticketing booth to open an hour before the game started.

Dragons’ Marcus Marshall came back ‘alive again in this game as mentioned by head coach Christopher Thomas and he took home 30 points, 5 rebounds, 6 assists and 3 steals.

AJ West and Joshua Munzon scored 21 points and 17 points respectively. The local players contributed 12 points to the scoreboard but most notably Ivan Yeo who recorded 14 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 steals in the game alongside his four points basket.

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“It’s never easy to play a game on top of a game, especially when there’s travelling involved. The wear and tear on these kids’ bodies from a very hard fought, physical game last Friday to have to readjust your mind to get into a must-win game for us.

“To bounce back the way we did is a real telling sign about how resilient our guys are. We had a lot thrown at us earlier and whether it is schedule wise or circumstances, we have been a resilient basketball. I think there were some incredible moments on the floor whether offensively or defensively,” Thomas said.

Rough start for the Dragons, eased out to half-time
The Dragons had a rough start in the early part of the game. There were no baskets for the Dragons in the early minutes of the game, Dreamers scoring 4-0 in the run from Daniel and Aguilar.

Dragons attempted seven baskets only managed to garner their first basket from AJ’s one out of two free throws, 1-4. A low scoring quarter, both teams struggled to get points to the baskets and the scores remained towards the mid-quarter.

Trouble was brewing for the Dragons as Kuek Tian Yuan and AJ West booked two early fouls respectively but later came back up scoring 7 points in the run from AJ and Marshall as the clock ticks down towards the last two minutes in the quarter, 8-9.

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Cabahug’s quick-paced jump shot gave the Dragons their first lead in the game over Dreamers, 10-9 while Dreamers retaliated almost immediately with two successive shots by Cheng Chi Kuan and Yang Tian You. Munzon sank a three-pointer to tie the game at 13-13 in the last minute of the quarter.

Things get rather heated up as Marshall got caught up and locked in a scuffle with the Dreamers’ Yang Tian You. Ivan Yeo took on two successive shots before Marshall extends another lead for the Dragons in the early three minutes of second quarter, 19-15.

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As the Dragons fought to extend their lead, Dreamers tied the game midway to the quarter from Aguilar and Daniels dunked to tie at 26-26. Ting Chun Hong answered the call with a long shot three-pointer to keep the Malaysian team dominating the quarter, 29-26.

Seconds before the halftime break, Dreamers’ heritage import Charles Barratt shaved Dragons’ lead to one after his three-pointer, 32-31. Munzon denied Chen Yu Han’s in a massive block and closed the half-time at 32-31.

Back in the lead, Dreamers’ out to shut Dragons down
The game went into an overdrive as the pace picked up as the Dragons dominating more baskets to extend their lead.

As the Malaysian team were leading by three points, Dreamers’ Wu Sung Wei forced the game to another tie at 39-39 at four minutes in the third quarter, 39-39.

The deadlock did not last long when Cabahug and Marshall Duo returned the baskets with another fast break for a four-point lead in the hands of the Dragons, 43-39.

Wu Sung Wei reclaimed the lead for the Dreamers in the final two minutes with a shot from the perimeter, 44-45. Kuek Tian Yuan tied the game back with a three-pointer and a back-to-back three-point too from Munzon, 50-47 at the end of the quarter.

Right after Wu’s fourth three-pointers that reclaimed the lead for the Dreamers at 55-51, Marshalls’ back-to-back three-pointer with Munzon’s layup pushed Dreamers back down to the block and gave the Dragons a new hope to take on the lead with four points, 61-57.

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Foul trouble brewing in the court with the Dreamers, as the Dragons took on the biggest lead in the game midway in the final quarter after a foul-in by AJ West, 69-59.

The crowd erupted into a frenzy as Marshall played his seconds down in the final two minutes to put Dragons ahead of Dreamers by 7 points but it was shortlived after Wu took another three-pointer to shave Dragons’ lead to four, 74-70.

As the clock ticked towards the end of the game, Dragons further extended the lead making more baskets from 12 free throws, making 10 out of 12 throws.

Dragons’ head coach Christopher Thomas felt that it was tough to call a game a must win at an early stage but it is important to be more desperate to do their best to get the win.

Westports Malaysia Dragons will play their next home game against Saigon Heat on January 17 (Wednesday) at 8.30PM, MABA Stadium Kuala Lumpur.

by Norman Goh