Ariel Vanguardia: “We are putting a lot more emphasis on our defense for season 4”

It didn’t take long for the Westports Malaysia Dragons to prepare for season four. Dragons’ head coach Ariel Vanguardia flew to the United States last month and took the opportunity to watch the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas.

We had a chance to talk to coach Vanguardia about his trip to the States and what part of his team that he would like to improve for season 4.

What was the biggest coaching challenge for you in your first season as a Dragons’ head coach?

We had our share of injuries last season,  I call them “thunderbolts”, you just never know when they gonna hit.  We were on first place and had momentum then boom! That was really a challenge to bring up the morale of the team. But that made us tougher as a team and more so as a family.We had a great run.

How happy are you with the development of Loh Shee Fai?

Shee Fai started the season great, he beats out Patrick for the starting 2 spot during the first round. I had them compete everyday in practice and it really helped his mental toughness. Fai’s still got alot of upside in him, he’s a complete package, a 6’3″ shooter that can also counter with drives. He is also a good defender and very coachable. Can’t be too happy with his development because I know he could still improve and becomes ABL’s deadliest shooter. Season 4 could be his breakout year!

You recently went to the States to scout players, did you get a chance to work anyone out while you were there?

Actually my trip to the US was primarily to coach a minor league pro exposure camp organized by a long time friend of mine Darryl Reshaw. Its called the Global Basketball Summer League in Las Vegas. But since Las Vegas is the mecca of summer league basketball, I took the opportunity to watch the NBA summer league and reunite with other coaches that I’ve worked with in the past. Also observed a couple of NBA summer league team practices and build new networks with coaches, scouts and agents.It was unbelievable the amount of talent out there and really the key is to tap that player that will best suit your team.

What will be the main thing you look for in an import you want to bring in next season?

We probably had the best combination imports last season in terms of stats and thats really tough to match. I hope we can bring them back for another run. For me,  I always look at the ability of the import to score in traffic and the number of times they go to the free-throw line in a game. Thats really the main thing I look for aside from their attitude.

In what particular area of your team do you want to improve in Season 4?

The Dragons had been an offensive minded team last season, We led the league in scoring with our firepower.   Although we still would like to maintain this aggressiveness, we are putting a lot more emphasis on our defense for season 4. We’d like to have a good balance and be able to maintain our defensive intensity all throughout the season.