The AirAsia Philippine Patriots started their AirAsia ASEAN Basketball League season 3 campaign with a convincing 86-58 win over newcomers Bangkok Cobras. Patriots import Nakiea Miller proved to be far too much for the Cobras and last year’s best import had a monster double-double with 24 points and 18 rebounds. Anthony Johnson added a further 17 pts for the Patriots while Bruce Brown was the Cobras’ leading scorer with 11 points.
The Bangkok Cobras seemed to have defensive problems as their two American imports Gentry Lewis and Bruce Brown were not able to defend the Patriots, who managed to score 38 points in the paint. Even the Patriots’ bench came up bigger in this game with 42 points compared to the Cobras’ bench who only managed to score 21 points
Their lack of experience showed as the Cobras were only able to keep up with the Patriots in the first quarter and by the second quarter, the Patriots were running the game, the Cobras only being allowed 5 points in the entire quarter. Halftime saw the Patriots with a 51-23 lead which the Cobras were not able to recover from.
Miller was unstoppable in the first half. Bruce Brown, who was guarding Miller, had a hard time stopping him as Miller dominated the paint. Miller and Johnson combined for 30 points in the first half which was more than the total points from the entire Cobras squad.
This game also marks the debut of Joe Bryant, Kobe Bryant’s father, as the Cobras’ new head coach. Unfortunately, Bryant just arrived in Manila on the day of the game and was unable to get the opportunity to prepare his team for this game. As a result, the Cobras turned the ball over 19 times in this game.
As for the season one champions the Patriots, this is a great way to open their season as they will be looking to try to make their 3rd appearance in an AirAsia ABL final. The Patriots were very aggressive both offensively and defensively. They were also able to take care the ball very well and only turned the ball over 7 times in the entire game.