It’s almost uncanny how the addition of ASEAN Basketball League (ABL) champions has altered the fate of last season’s last-place finisher.
In their maiden season in the ABL, the Macau Wolf Warriors only managed to compile a record of two wins against 24 losses but the entry of head coach Todd Purves and an outstanding set of World Imports has drastically changed the squad. For the first time in their franchise history, the Wolf Warriors have now picked up back-to-back wins as they avenged an earlier loss to the Macau Black Bears with a 94-91 victory, Thursday night at the Nanhai Gymnasium.
After a blackluster performance cut short due to fouling out, Julian Boyd came up with a bounce-back performance as he led the Wolf Warriors with 26 points and 17 rebounds. He shot efficiently from the field, making 11 of his 20 attempts.
The Wolf Warriors looked like they were in complete control of the match midway through the third as Cai Chen made a layup to extend their lead at its largest at 15 points, 67-52. However, the Black Bears refused to go down without a fight as they scratched and clawed their way back into the match.
The three World Import of the Black Bears all connected with triples before the end of the third period with Liu Zihao scoring on a layup to trim their deficit down to a single point, 70-69, heading into the fourth.
Like what happened in their first win against the Taipei Fubon Braves, it was Herring who closed out the game for the Wolf Warriors. He nailed a crucial triple with less than four minutes remaining in the game to push them ahead by four, 86-82. He also hit a couple of free throws in the final minute to keep them ahead but the Black Bears almost forced an overtime period.
Down by five, 94-89, Mikh McKinney located Brandon Edwards for a layup with nine seconds remaining. Jenning Leung then stole the ball off a Boyd pass, which gave Liu a good look from deep but he only managed to hit the backboard.
Herring finished with another near triple-double with 25 points, nine rebounds, and seven assists while Scott Ewing chipped in 20 points, anchored on five triples.
The Wolf Warriors got 13 points from Cai Chen and eight markers from Tang Zhi Keng off the bench to fill the void left by a scoreless performance from Steven Thomas, who only played 25 minutes in the game before fouling out.
McKinney led the Black Bears with 26 points, along with seven rebounds and nine assists but he committed 10 turnovers. Kenny Manigault chipped in 23 points and Edwards added 21 but the missing link was Leung who only had nine points after scoring 23 in their last game against the Formosa Dreamers.