|Youth and Sports Minister YB Khairy Jamaluddin With the Westports Malaysia Dragons|
|Justin Melton drives past Stanley Pringle|
The Indonesia Warriors are headed back to the ABL finals after defeating the Westports Malaysia Dragons 64-81 at MABA stadium on Wednesday night to close out the Semi Final series 3-0. The Dragons have made the Semi Finals in all four ABL seasons but their first Finals appearance will have to wait as the defending champions showed their experience on the road and win game three in Malaysia.
As he did with games one and two, Justin Melton led the Dragons scoring 16 points and 5 rebounds, Gavin Edwards had 15 points and 7 rebounds however the big story for the Dragons was not the return of Marcus Hubbard but the injury sustained in the first half. Hubbard fell awkwardly with Steven Thomas and was clearly not 100 percent for the remainder of the game.
“In the game two we were ready and proved for the most part that we can play and compete without him” said team captain Guga following the loss, “We were excited about Marcus returning and should have kept up the same intensity and used it as a bonus to have him back.”
“It has been a great season though and the team chemistry was great. I do hope that we can maintain that.”
The Dragons were looking sharp to start with as the ball moved around the perimeter and Melton hit his second 3 pointer for the quarter. The Dragons were up by one after Guga found Hubbard for a dunk however, the Warriors used a 15 point run leading into mid-way through the second quarter to pull away to a lead that the Dragons were never able to recover from.
Marcus Hubbard Throws down a dunk in the first quarter
With almost half of the second quarter played, Edwards finally broke the drought but with the Warriors pressuring the ball handlers the Dragons were late getting into their offense and struggled getting good shots.
Hubbard came out hobbling in the second half and remained in the game with the Dragons losing Edwards to his fourth foul after just over two minutes played in the third quarter. There were glimpses of fight in the Dragons however anytime a run seemed imminent the Warriors were able to answer and break any momentum that was building. Melton continued to attack the basket and Edwards returned in the fourth quarter but Dragons were never able to get the lead into single digits.
Reflecting on the season that was, Dragons coach Ariel Vanguardia said after the game that “I honestly believe that this team was strong enough to be in the finals.”
Referring to the amount of injuries throughout the season he continued, “we have persevered through the season and made adjustments. We’ve worked at hard.”
“It’s unfortunate that the season ended this way.”
In the other semi final series, The San Miguel Beermen regained their home court advantage over the Sports Rev Thailand Slammers by taking a 2-1 series lead. The Beermen held on for a 70-62 victory after starting the game on a 20-2 point run. Game four will be played in Nimibutr Stadium, Thailand on Thursday night where the Slammers will be playing for their season’s survival and the Beerman will be looking to close out the series.
Scorers for the Dragons: J. Melton (16), G. Edwards (15), M. Hubbard (11), M. Tautua’a (10), J. Armon (10) and G. Batumalai (2).
Scorers for the Warriors: S. Pringle (24), C. Daniels (18), M. Wuysang (17), S. Thomas (10), J. Canada (6), A. Prihantono (3), C. Sitepu (2) and J. Smith (1).
Scores by quarters:
|Westports Malaysia Dragons||15||11||21||17||64|
Current Playoff series results (seeding in brackets)
San Miguel Beermen (1) 2 – 1 Sports Rev Thailand Slammers (4)
Indonesia Warriors (2) 3 – 0 Westports Malaysia Dragons (3)
Final league standings:
|1||San Miguel Beermen||22||19-3||86||252|
|3||Westports Malaysia Dragons||22||12-10||55||57|
|4||Sports Rev Thailand Slammers||22||8-14||36||-40|
|5||Jobstreet.com Singapore Slingers||22||7-15||32||-175|