The Westports Malaysia Dragons picked up a huge victory to stay in the hunt for the Playoffs, dispatching the Saigon heat 80-76 inside the MABA Stadium in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Bolstered by the return of Winston Shepard from a one game suspension, the Dragons made a fourth quarter rally when it seemed like the Heat was beginning to pull a away. A three pointer from Corey Cilia gave the Heat its biggest lead of the game at 62-54 with 9:21 remaining in the game.
But the Dragons battled back to get to within four points before free throws from Kyle Barone and Trevon Hughes stymied the run and pushed back the lead to eight points again. But the Dragons took over from that point. A 14-1 run presided over by Nnanna Egwu, Jonathaon Wong, Winston Shepard and Chris Eversley completely flipped the script, and gave the Dragons a five point lead, 72-67 heading into the last two minutes of the game.
A three pointer by the Heat’s Chris Dierker was able to get the visiting squad to within one, with 1:29 left to play. But solid free throw shooting from Shepard and Eversley sealed the win down the stretch, to the delight of the Malaysian fans in attendance.
Shepard led the way for the Dragons, tallying 22 points, 16 rebounds and 4 assists. He was all over the floor for Malaysia, providing energy and hustle that was sorely missed in his absence. Eversley also had a double-double for the Dragons with 22 points and 11 rebounds.
Nnanna Egwu was also solid for the Dragons down the stretch, as the big man had 17 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals and 2 blocks. Jonathan Wong quarterbacked for the squad with 9 points, 7 rebounds and 2 steals.
The Heat were led by Kyle Barone, who tallied 32 points, 12 rebounds and 3 assists. DeAngelo Hamilton finished with 15 points and 11 rebounds for the Heat. Hughes suffered from one of his worst shooting games of the season, as he went 2/21 from the field to finish with only 8 points. However he did have 5 rebounds and 7 assists.
The win keeps the Dragons in pace with Mono Vampire, as they are now only one game back in the standings after ending their six game losing streak. The Dragons are now at 7-15, while Mono Vampire remains on top at 8-14. This sets up the two squads for the huge home and away showdown between these same two squads happening in the upcoming weeks.
The Heat fall to 12-11 in the standings, currently at sixth place and on a two game losing streak.