In the first quarter of their debut game, the Formosa Dreamers looked like they were ready to engage the CLS Knights and go toe-to-toe with them. They had a dominating big man in Jaleel Cousins, one of the most reliable and hardworking imports in ABL history in Lenny Daniel, plus solid contributions from the locals. They shot 68% from the field in the period, a testament to how well they executed in the period.
But it didn’t last for long. The Knights blitzed the Dreamers in the second period, going up by as many as 23 points through beautiful ball movement, terrific outide shooting and the 1-2 punch of imports Duke Crews and Brian Williams. And even though the two imports went down with injuries and were unable to finish the game, the home team were still able to keep the Dreamers at bay, and win handily via a 94-73 decision.
For the Dreamers based out of Taiwan, it was definitely a rude awakening. For many of the players, it was their first taste of basketball out of their home country, and playing in hostile territories with fans booing them left and right. And based on how they played when the pressure was turned on by CLS, it will be a learning experience for them moving forward.
“We’re a very young team,” Dreamers Coach Hsu Hao Cheng said after the loss. “We have a lot of young players that just recently graduated from college. It’s going to be a great experience for our team.”
“Through this game, we’re going to go home and do a lot of film studies and hope we can find a lot of ways to improve the team and everyone together,” he later added.
If there’s one player on the team that Coach Hsu can rely on to provide experience and insight on how to deal with the challenges in the ABL, it’s World Import Lenny Daniel. The former Saigon Heat player tallied 17 points and 7 rebounds in his debut with the Dreamers, but the proud veteran knows that he and his team are capable of much more.
“I wasn’t myself,” Daniel admitted. ‘I’ve only been with this team for one week. So i’m still trying to get into the flow, and after that I’ll be able to take a little pressure of Jaleel [Cousins] and the local players.”
The arrival of Daniel was a shocking move, but one that did not come without challenges. Both Daniel and Cousins arived late to practice with the Dreamers, and the first game served as a feeling out process between the locals and their imports. That’s why there were a lot of sloppy turnovers and one on one plays read perfectly by the veteran Knights.
“We’re all trying to figure it out,” Daniel said. “We haven’t had a lot of time to play together. I’m just still learning the plays. I’m still learning where guys like the ball. They’re still trying to figure out that I like the ball on the fast breaks and sometimes on post-up.”
Daniel knows that building team chemistry and success isn’t an overnight affair. “We’re still figuring each other out,” he shared. “Its gonna take awhile. We’re a new team, and we can’t overreact to one game.”
There were hints of potential greatness in the Dreamers’ loss. Cousins finished with a double-double performance of 22 points and 15 rebounds despite being in foul trouble in the first half, Chai Wei finished in double digits with 11 points on 3/7 from beyond the three point arc. But compared to the Knights’ unselfish play and spread the wealth offense, they have a ways to improve.
“It’s definitely our pleasure to play against them, especially with our young players,” Coach Hsu said. “They could be out there seeing how they play and gaining experiences. Just trying to figure out the way they should play.”
The Dreamers will have time to go back to the drawing board before going back on the road to face Chong Son Kung Fu Basketball Club on Friday, November 24. The Dreamers will soon learn that it’s all part of life in the ABL. Daniel believes that he and his teammates will be fast learners.
“Once these guys figure out and get more comfortable to the pace of the game, the physicality and all that, we’ll be fine.”