The 2014 ABL Westports Malaysia Dragons team pose for a picture during their unveiling at MABA Stadium in Kuala Lumpur yesterday. -
KUALA LUMPUR: The Westports Malaysia Dragons have unveiled their roster for the fifth season of the Asean Basketball League (ABL) as they seek to break their semi-final jinx.
The Dragons who have been mainstays of the ABL since the league’s inception in 2009, have never gone past the semi-final stage in four previous seasons.
With no Philippines representative in the ABL this year, the Dragons would certainly fancy their chances of progressing to the final and have named a young side for the challenge.
Three cagers in their 30s – former captain B. Guganeswaran, K. Satyaseelan and Chee Li Wei have stepped down from the team and have been replaced by a younger trio of Wong Wee Seng (26), Tong Wen Keong (22) and Yim Shen Hao (24).
Experienced point guard Ooi Ban Sin will as-sume the role of team captain while forward John Ng, who has been part of the Dragons since the first season, has been named as vice-captain.
Among the returning local players are Kwaan Yoong Jing, Kuek Tian Yuen, Loh Shee Fai and Iz-ran Edika Kamaruddin.
The Dragons have also drafted three imports – Americans Chrisopher Eversley and Justin Knox as well as point guard Rashawn McCarthy who qualifies as an Asean import due to his Filipino roots.
The Dragons are also boosted by the return of power forward Moala Tautuaa, who is of Filipino-Tongan descent.
The 25-year-old Tautuaa, who is the livewire of the team, is fully fit after being troubled by a series of injuries last year.
Meanwhile, Dragons’ head coach Ariel Vanguardia is happy with the team he has and believes they will be ready for the challenge when they tip off against the Hi-Tech Bangkok City on July 16.
“Right now we are into our sixth week of training programme and the team is still very much a work in progress,” said Ariel.
“It may not be a top-three team in terms of talent but we will definitely be the best in hard work and discipline.”