Westports M'sia Dragons Aim Higher For The 2014 ABL

Last update: 05/07/2014

KUALA LUMPUR, July 5 (Bernama) -- Malaysia's professional basketball team, Westports Malaysia Dragons, is putting a lofty target by hoping to enter the finals of the 2014 Asean Basketball League (ABL) which starts on July 16.

Its Head Coach, Ariel Vanguardia said, the target was always the team's aspiration as it remained consistent by entering the semi-final every season since the tournament was introduced in 2009.

"That is always the goal for the Dragons. Every season, we qualified into the semi-finals and hopefully, this coming league, they can make it into the final game.

"So, this season, we are focusing more on the journey to get there. Based on the team's performance, I believe they will get to the final," he told Bernama in an exclusive interview, recently.

"But we have to do the little things first, go one game at a time and play every game like it's going to be our last. Every practice is like a battle," said the Filipino coach.

Vanguardia, who has been taking charge of the local outfit since 2010, noted that the Dragons had an advantage against the other teams as it mostly comprised young and aggressive players who were built up to challenge for titles.

"We are a very young team but we will use this youth and aggressiveness as our advantage. I'm confident my team will be able to take on any team in ABL. But we still have not finalised the players yet as they are currently having a team building activity," he said.

On the players, Vanguardia said they were ready for action except for several players undergoing recuperation.

"We are getting there, although this season we started training a little late compared to the previous seasons.

"Right now we have 18 men in the pre-season rosters and we will trim this down after the Manila trip against the Philippine national team...those who do not make it to the final line-up will be part of our development team and reserve players," Vanguardia said.

"We will reveal the final line-up including the new international imports during the press conference on July 10...So far, we have signed (American-born Filipino-Tongan) Moala Tautuaa as our Asean import while we will announce (three) other imports as we are still in the negotiation process with them," he added.

ABL allows each team to register two Asean and also two foreign imports.

Vanguardia also pointed out that 2012 champions, Indonesia Warriors besides defending champions, San Miguel Beerman of the Philippines were their main threat since these two teams had a better record against them.

Dragons will open up their season against HiTech Bangkok City at the Thai Japanese Stadium in Bangkok on July 16 before taking on Indonesia Warriors at the Maba Stadium, here on Aug 2.

The AirAsia Asean Basketball League 2014 enters the fifth season this year and will feature six teams including Westports Malaysia Dragons.

Others are HiTech Bangkok City from Thailand, Indonesia Warriors, JobStreet.Com Singapore Slingers, Laskar Dreya South Sumatra from Indonesia and Saigon Heat from Vietnam.