Playing inspired basketball for their fallen comrade, the Macau Black Bears fought bravely and valiantly to end their losing skid.
The Black Bears won their first game after losing Anthony Tucker to a long term injury, prevailing over the listless Westports Malaysia Dragons, 87-62 in the University of Macau Sports Complex.
During the team warmups, the Black Bears all wore shirts that had Tucker’s jersey number and name on the back, a symbol of how they would look to soldier on even without their World MVP in tow. And immediately they showed that they would still be a force to reckon with, as they unleashed an early run that brought them to a 12 point advantage at the end of the first quarter, 23-11.
After the Dragons fought the Black Bears to a standstill in the second quarter, the Black Bears decimated their visitors in the third quarter. Beginning in the 7:50 mark via a layup from Ryan Watkins, the Black Bears outscored the Dragons 19-6 for the remainder of the period, and limited them to only one field goal. By the time the quarter was done, the Black Bears held a 24 point advantage. They would lead by as many as 32 points in the fourth quarter, before settling on the 25 point win.
Reigning Heritage MVP Mikh McKinney paced the Black Bears anew, as he racked up 28 points to go along with 6 rebounds, and 9 assists. Ryan Watkins also had an excellent showing with 22 points and 19 rebounds.
Replacing Tucker in the lineup is an impossible task for one person, but the Black Bears were able to contend with his absence by getting several contributions from their locals. Jenning Leung finished in double figures with 11 points followed by Tian Zhongtian and Derek King, who each had 7 points for the Black Bears.
The Dragons, who played without World Import Winston Shepard who served a one-game suspension for incurring five technical fouls were paced by Jonathan Wong, who finished with a double-double performance of 19 points and 11 rebounds. Chris Eversley struggled from the field with a 5/20 shooting clip en route to 16 points and 12 rebounds.
The victory ensures the Black Bears of a spot in the playoffs, as they climb to the 12-9 in fourth place. They’re half a game ahead of the Saigon Heat currently in the standings.
The Dragons’ loss coupled with Mono Vampire’s overtime win versus the Saigon Heat drops them further out of the playoff picture at 9th place with a 6-15 card. They trail Mono Vampire by two games in the win column with five games remaining in their schedule.