The Westports Malaysia Dragons (4-4) will make their first trip back to Manila since being knocked out of the ASEAN Basketball League (ABL) Semi-finals last year, when they take on the San Miguel Beermen (4-3) this Saturday.
The Dragons have begun to turn around their early season slump and are now on a two game win streak which began when the Beermen and the Dragons matched up for the first time this season at MABA Stadium on February 16.
The turnaround in form has coincided with the return to health of players from injury and illness as well as the addition of new players, Justin Melton and Sammy Monroe. Melton has been starting at the point guard position since his arrival and Monroe has scored 32 points in each of his games while also averaging 7.5 rebounds, 4 assists, 6 steals and 2 blocks.
Dragons Coach Ariel Vanguardia knows that the recent form means nothing until they prove themselves against the top teams away from home. “We’re still 4 and 4, it’s nothing to be excited about. Our big game is still to come against San Miguel away from home.”
“Right now, we are a .500 team and to be a playoff team, you have to be above that.”
Looking ahead to Saturday’s game, Monroe said, “It’s going to be a little tougher this time, going to Manila, but we have no fear…..we’re going come out and play hard and be aggressive.”
“I’m going to push my team mates as hard as I can in practice. I’m going to talk to them and I’m going to try and be a leader on the floor.”
The Beermen have yet to find any rhythm to their season, not yet winning or losing more than one game in a row. It will be a welcome return home for the Beermen who have only played at home twice this season and haven’t played on their home court since early February. The Dragons’ offense will have to be firing on all cylinders as the Beermen average an impressive 98 points per game in their building.
In a stroke of good fortune for the Dragons, the Beermen’s leading scorer Gabe Freeman will not be playing as he is due to serve a one game suspension that was handed down by the league this week. Freeman was cited by the ABL for unsportsmanlike conduct and unnecessary physical contact during an incident with Desmond Oh of the Singapore Slingers in their game last Sunday.
Already without injured Center Brian Williams, the Beermen have temporarily brought in Matt Rogers at the Center position. Williams was injured in a knee collision against the Dragons.
The Westport Malaysia Dragons and San Miguel Beermen play at Ynares Sports Arena on Saturday 2nd March. The game can be watched live via video streaming through the ABL website.
|2||San Miguel Beermen||7||4-3||57||41|
|3||Jobstreet.com Singapore Slingers||8||4-4||50||-17|
|4||Westports Malaysia Dragons||6||3-3||50||-37|
|5||Westports Malaysia Dragons||7||3-4||43||3|
|6||Chang Thailand Slammers||7||2-5||29||-21|