KUALA LUMPUR – The Westports Malaysia Dragons will be facing long time causeway rivals, the Singapore Slingers as their away first game of ASEAN Basketball League (ABL) Season 9 this Friday 23rd November. Earlier this month, the Slingers came to Kuala Lumpur for a pre-season friendly game with the Dragons. Despite the [10 points] loss, head coach Jamie Pearlman said it was important for him to test out his team against the likes of an ABL team before the season starts. This is because, the Dragonforce has introduced new local talents for season 9, most of which came from the Dragons’ development team that performed in the Malaysia Pro League (MPL). “We intend to train these players to make them worthy to professional basketball, internationally,” said assistant coach Adrian Wong. “Sure it might take more than just this season to do so, but they have to start somewhere.” Head Coach Jamie Pearlman explains that the size, athleticism and pace of play of the players in this league will be a new challenge for most of his team. Despite the team not having any talents from the National Team, Coach Jamie is focused on his current team’s development and is determined that they will give their best. “They are no national players, but we have a very talented but young team who will be up against experienced players there, so we’re not making any predictions but will be focused on the execution of our style of play,” said Jamie. From the local scene, Dragonforce 2018-2019 features Chiang Wei Er, Benjamin Sim, Heng Yee Tong, Chin Cheng Wah, Gan Teck Hwa, Chan Kek Thai, Tan Wei Long, and one very familiar Loh Shee Fai. As for imports, we have Jonathan Wong from Singapore who will play for the Dragons as a local talent, Chris Eversley, Nnanna Egwu and Sundiata Gaines. Unfortunately for the team, Gaines suffered a knee injury during training and will not be playing at the start of the season. “I’ll have my surgery done next week, and hopefully it turns out well and I can start training and playing with the team again after I recover,” said Gaines. “We’ve been training for a few weeks now and the boys have gotten used to having me as a part of the plays, so it’s a real shame for this to happen right now.” Gaines will receive surgery next week on his meniscus tear on his left knee. The timeline of his injury and recovery is unknown at time of writing, we will know more post-surgery. Despite this injury and a loss of a core import player, Adrian says it might be good thing to really put the pressure on these young boys. “To put them in a game where we have only 2 imports against teams with 3, it’s going to be a challenge, but it’s exposure and learning experience.” The game will be played at Slingers’ home court, OCBC Arena at 8PM local time.