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Dragons tie ABL title series

Game Friday
(OCBC Arena, Singapore)
8 p.m. – Singapore vs Malaysia
(Series tied 1-1)

KUALA LUMPUR – The Westports Malaysia Dragons got key contributions from almost everyone and prevented the Singapore Slingers from putting a stranglehold on the ASEAN Basketball League Finals with an 83-67 victory, tying the best-of-five series at 1-1 last Sunday at MABA Stadium here.

Fil-American Jason Brickman was productive on both ends of the floor, American Calvin Godfrey avoided foul trouble to register a double-doubles while Malaysians Shee Fai Loh and Ma Chee Kheun stepped up as the Dragons bounced back from their second half meltdown in Game 1 to split the first two games of the series.

Brickman, a potential PBA prospect, had 13 points, nine rebounds and eight assists while Godfrey added 15 points and 16 rebounds to provide support for World Import Most Valuable Player Reginald Johnson and Fil-Canadian Matthew Wright, the league’s ASEAN Heritage MVP.

Johnson had 18 points, 12 rebounds and three blocks while Wright had a quiet 12-point showing but made two threes during a third quarter binge that saw the Dragons take a commanding 58-40 lead.

Loh and Ma were also key for the Dragons with 14 and six points, respectively, as they produced key baskets that prevented the Slingers from taking a commanding 2-0 lead heading into Games 3 and 4 next week in the Lion City.
Malaysia’s Filipino coach Ariel Vanguardia lauded his team’s defensive effort that was sorely missing in Game 1 when the Dragons blew an 11-point halftime lead to lose 84-80.

“I think we sustain our defensive intensity in the second half,” said Vanguardia. “We made crucial stops and kind of make them an isolation team which was not their game. I also felt that the Slingers felt satisfied they got one win here.”

Xavier Alexander, who nearly registered a triple-double, was held to 15 points on 6-of-20 shooting with seven rebounds, five assists and four steals for Singapore. Justin Howard had 24 points, 14 rebounds, four steals and seven blocks but got little support from his teammates.