A new home floor and a few new talented teammates was what it took for the Macau Wolf Warriors to shock the ASEAN Basketball League.
Playing against the red hot Fubon Braves, it was the Wolf Warriors that emerged victorious, winning 88-83 on their home floor at the Zhongshan Shaxi Gymnasium.
Winless entering the battle against the Braves, the Wolf Warriors came out and played with force, taking it to their opponents that were in the midst of a three-game winning streak. The team changed up its lineup, going with new recruit Scott Ewing, a player born in Hong Kong thus eligible to play for the team as a local. The team also opted to start veteran Steven Thomas, and have star Cai Chen come off the bench.
It paid dividends immediately, as the Wolf Warriors raced to a dominating first-half performance. They also suffocated the offense of the Braves, holding them to only 26 points at the half while taking a 13 point lead.
A dunk by World Import Julian Boyd at the 7:33 mark of the 3rd quarter gave the Wolf Warriors it’s biggest of the game at 15, 45-30. But just when it seemed like they were going to cruise to the victory, the Braves had other plans. They unleashed a 12-0 run in less than 4 minutes, trimming the lead down to only 3, before settling at a 6 point lead at the end of the third, 61-55.
The fourth period was a dramatic back and forth affair, with the Braves challenging at every turn to rally back and seize control. The Wolf Warriors were back in uncomfortable territory. Heartbreaking losses to San Miguel Alab Pilipinas and the Kuala Lumpur Dragons in the season showed a lack of production in the clutch.
But tonight, Doug Herring refused to let his team suffer the same mistake again. He made big shot after big shot, keeping the Wolf Warriors ahead entering the last three minutes. But the disaster did occur, as Charles Garcia picked up a basket and foul off of a disqualifying foul from the Wolf Warriors’ Julian Boyd. And on the way to the bench, he was also called for a technical foul which trimmed the lead of the Wolf Warriors to only one point entering the last two minutes.
But Ewing would respond by hitting the biggest shot of the game, a cold-blooded triple that pushed the Wolf Warriors ahead, giving his squad the lead they would no longer relinquish. Try as the Braves did, the Wolf Warriors finally showed grace under pressure, and can now be celebrated.
Herring was masterful in the ballgame, tallying a near-triple double of 32 points, 9 rebounds, and 8 assists. Ewing provided the outside scoring badly needed by the team, as he made a solid debut with 10 points on 2 of 3 from beyond the arc.
Steven Thomas was also brilliant, as he won the war in the middle over Sim Bhullar, who only had 7 pints in the entire game. Ewing, on the other hand, had 10 points, helping the Wolf Warriors top the contenders.
The Wolf Warriors are now on the right track and have a 1-3 slate. The Braves’ three-game winning streak is snapped, and they fall to third place with a 4-2 card.