It will be the second meeting of the Macau teams as the Black Bears take on the Wolf Warriors anew in the ASEAN Basketball League’s Tenth Season.
In their first meeting, the Black Bears shot the ball well from the outside leading to an easy victory. However, they will be taking on a more confident Wolf Warriors squad as they already have a handful of games under their belt and are also coming off their first win of the season.
The Wolf Warriors scored a breakthrough win in their last game and they took down a big-name victim in the Taipei Fubon Braves. The last-placed finisher last season wanted to prove that they will be no pushovers this time around and they made a strong statement with a fiery start and steady finishing kick against the Braves. The Wolf Warriors led by as many as 15 points in the game while the Braves never sat in the driver’s seat in the match.
Douglas Herring led the fight for the Wolf Warriors as he came into the game knowing that he’ll have to be very aggressive in creating for himself first before making plays for his teammates. The ABL champion point guard torched Fubon’s defense early and was also there to make big plays and convert on important free throws in the end game. Herring did not forget about setting up his teammates as finished with 32 points, nine rebounds, and eight assists.
Steven Thomas played a big factor in the game as well with a double-double of 14 points and 13 rebounds. However, his biggest contribution in the match went beyond the box score as his presence in the shaded area against the twin towers of Fubon in Charles Garcia and Sim Bhullar was a big reason why the Wolf Warriors picked up the win.
In their first three losses, the Wolf Warriors got very little from their bench but coach Todd Purves addressed the situation nicely in their last game. He added a local in Scott Ewing who immediately made his presence felt by scoring 10 points against the Braves, including a crucial triple in the end game. This gave Herring some help in the backcourt, which also allowed them to send leading local scorer Cai Chen into their second unit. He did not shoot well from the field at a four of 14 clip but managed to score 10 points as well.
This Macau versus Macau battle will also feature an interesting pairing between two talented imports in Julian Boyd and Kenny Manigault. Although Boyd struggled and ultimately fouled out against Fubon, he has shown his team and the league the damage he could do when he gets going. Boyd norms 25.8 points and 10.8 rebounds per game.
Manigault, on the other end, is eager to stake the claim as the best two-way player in the league as he works tirelessly on offense and defense. He norms 24.2 points, 8.2 rebounds, and 5.0 assists per contest.
The Black Bears are coming off a tough loss against the Formosa Dreamers on the road. They were down by as many as 17 points in the match but battled back in the second half to give themselves a shot at a comeback win. They got within two points of the Dreamers, 96-84, final minute but could not find a way to stop Jerran Young from putting the game away for Formosa.
Mikh McKinney led the Black Bears in scoring with 27 points while adding four rebounds and 11 assists. He shot well from the two-point range at 9 of 16 but struggled from the three-point range once again, making only one of his seven tries. The career 39% shooter from deep has only made 24% of his triple attempts this season.
Luckily for the Black Bears, a local has stepped up to aid in their three-point shooting as Jenning Leung is proving to be a great option for them this season. He was the second-leading scorer against the Dreamers with 23 points on six of 10 shooting from distance while adding four rebounds and three assists. He’ll need to keep torching the net from the outside especially in McKinney continues to struggle with his stroke.