The Kuala Lumpur Dragons tangle with the Saigon Heat, Friday ASEAN Basketball League action at the MABA Stadium in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The two squads take the court at 8 PM GMT +8.
Fresh from an impressive and dominating victory over San Miguel Alab Pilipinas, the Dragons snapped their three-game losing skid and evened up their season record at 5-5. Led by a monster performance once again from Will Artino, the Dragons are finally healthy once again and determined to rise up in the standings once again.
Playing against an obviously exhausted San Miguel Alab Pilipinas, the Dragons wasted on time in exerting their dominance, en route to a 91-63 win. The Dragons were able to lead by as many as 31 points at one point in the game, and they also torched the nets with 11 triples compared to 6 for Alab.
Playing against a weary squad, Will Artino’s energy stood out in the Dragons’ victory. The second-year import had 24 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists, and 3 blocks, as he helped his team cruise to the easy win.
Longtime Dragon Kuek Tian Yuan had a monster performance in the win against Alab Pilipinas. Kuek had a season-high of 16 points on 3 made three-pointers, together with 7 rebounds, as he showcased his versatility on the offensive end.
Simeon Lepichev has been a boost for the Dragons since returning from injury two games ago. His versatility was on full display against Alab Pilipinas, with 12 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists, and 4 blocks. Lepichev was a big reason for the early success of the Dragons. Will they go on another winning run with him in the lineup?
The Heat, on the other hand, is still mired at the bottom of the standings with a 2-9 record. The five-game losing streak is making it tougher and tougher for the Heat to return to Playoff contention. Though the talent on the floor is undeniable, it just hasn’t come together for this perennial ABL Playoff team.
Saigon battled valiantly against the league-leading Mono Vampire Basketball Club, but in the end, they fell short and lost 95-87. The Heat was unable to keep their opponents off the free-throw line, as Mono Vampire made 17 free throws compared to only 7 for the Heat. Add to that the absence of Sam Thompson, and it was another wasted opportunity for the beleaguered squad.
Tyshawn Taylor was pegged as a potential season-saving World Import for the Heat. But despite his monster numbers, they haven’t translated to wins. His 32 points, 7 rebounds and 6 assists against Mono Vampire were excellent, but he’d obviously trade everything to finally get a win for the team.
Though Thompson was on the bench for the Heat, he did not suit up for his team due to sickness. The Heat definitely missed him out there, and in a close game, maybe Thompson could have helped swing the game in the Heat’s favor.
Can the Heat avoid losing six straight, or will the Dragons make it two in a row? Find out when the squads collide on Friday night.