Sunday, May 29, 2011, Pasig City â€“ The Westports KL Dragons may have
been trounced by Smart Gilas-Philippines, 95-64, but gained a lot
despite the loss in their first game in the 2011 FIBA Asia Champions Cup
at the Philsports Arena in Pasig City.
The Dragons had a good first half keeping them in the game within
shouting distance to the surprise of the Smart Gilas Philippines
national team before sputtering in the second half.
Dragons coach Ariel Vanguardia said that it was a learning experience to the players.
â€śIâ€™m happy with the way we played,â€ť said Vanguardia. â€śThis is our
first real game since our tune-up game against a local professional team
here. We have only been together for three weeks but we really played
â€śThis is a good opportunity for us since we are playing with the
best club teams in Asia. This is a part of the growing pains because we
are a young team,â€ť said Vanguardia.
Vanguardia said that the Westports KL Dragons and the Malaysian
national team are emulating the style of most of the national teams in
Asia including Smart Gilas where they start the players young and
develop them for the next years.
â€śWe are following the formula of most national teams. Keep them
intact for the next few years and see them grow,â€ť said Vanguardia.
American import Chris Ayer had a game-high 31 points while Marcus
Morrison added 15 points. The locals also did a good job with Yoong Jing
Kwaan scoring seven pointsÂ and Guganeswaran Batumalai adding five
The Filipino fans expected a blowout especially when the Dragons
were down, 10-0. But the Malaysians had other plans as they kept
themselves in the game. A two-point basket by Shee Fai Loh started a
Malaysian run to trail by only five points, 15-20.
The Dragons continued to stay in the game with Yoong Jing Kwaan
making his presence felt inside along with Ayer, who had 13 rebounds to
lead the team. Yoong made it a 38-39 score with a rebound putback before
Morrison making two free throws to end the first half ahead, 40-39.
Ayer continued to score with a jumper for a 42-39 lead to start the
third quarter but that was the time Smart Gilas pulled away outscoring
the Dragons, 26-9, in that period.
It was garbage time for Smart Gilas in the fourth but the Dragons
remained their hustle plays down the stretch knowing that every minute
is important to their campaign.
â€śItâ€™s a young team, we have a lot of new guys but with the way we played, Iâ€™m happy with it,â€ť said Ayer.
â€śI hope this game will boost our confidence as we try to seek a slot in the quarterfinals,â€ť said Vanguardia.
The Dragons will next face Duhok-Iraq on Monday 4 p.m. Manila time.