SINGAPORE – A rough start for the Malaysia Dragons against rivals Singapore Slingers for their first game of the ABL Season 9. Every year, Dragons and Slingers start the season by facing each other off as their first game. It was an uphill battle for the Dragons without their missing star player, Sundiata Gaines. Gaines was injured during pre-season training with the team and will be having knee surgery (meniscus) this coming Tuesday. Timeline of his recovery is still yet to be known. “He (Gaines) is our marquee player, the guy we rely on to score and create for us.” “The team had been building well in the pre-season so the loss of Sundiata was a massive blow to the group,” said coach Jamie Pearlman. “It was always going to be significant challenge for our young inexperienced team to face Singapore without him.” At this point, the person the team would look to is Dragons’ number 33, Chris Eversley. Currently he’s the only person on the team who has had experience in the ABL. The game started off slow, with Slingers getting a 13-0 lead against the team 5 minutes into the first quarter before Eversley managed to break their spree at 23-2. Throughout the game, the team pulled off several impressive plays to cut through Slingers’ defenses but were unable to convert. They (Dragons) kept their pace the following possession despite the transitions lost but in turn, those losses are what gave the opposition the chance to score (40) fast break points. Defensively, the team was not doing too well. Gaps between defense gave numerous open shots for the Singaporeans — they were shooting at 53.2% from field goal and 38.1% at the three-point line. Despite their determination, the team saw a loss at the end of the night by a margin of 54 points. Westports Malaysia Dragons will face Zhuhai Wolf Warriors for their next away game (7th Dec) at Zhuhai Jinan University 8PM local time.