PETALING JAYA: Westports Malaysia Dragons won a thrilling opening match in the Asean Basketball League by overcoming San Miguel Beermen of the Philippines 83-77 at the Maba Stadium yesterday.
Dragons, coached by Filipino Ariel Vanguardia, who took over from Goh Cheng Huat, found themselves on the back foot in the first quarter as they trailed Beermen 23-25 at the buzzer.
Just as the homesters, led by B. Guganeswaran, seemed to have lost the plot with the Beermen ahead 42-35 at half-time, the Dragons lifted themselves to take the lead 59-57 in the third quarter.
The fourth quarter was a touch-and-go affair. Dragons found themselves trailing 71-73 with 14 seconds to go but Tiras Wade made a basket to draw level 73-73 to force extra-time.
Dragons’ imports Emani Pacana and Nicholas Belasco then scored 10 points to give the homesters a 83-77 win.
Vanguardia was relieved that Belasco came to the rescue in extra time.
“It was a great result. I would say Nic (Belasco) was the player of the match. He hit the crucial baskets and I knew he would deliver in extra-time,” said Vanguardia.
In other matches yesterday, Singapore Slingers lost to Indonesia Warriors 59-79 while defending champions Chang Thailand Slammers beat Saigon Heats 78-58.
On Saturday, AirAsia Philippine Patriots beat Bangkok Cobras 86-58.
Westports Malaysia Dragons (Mas) bt San Miguel Beermen (Phi) 83-77, AirAsia Philippine Patriots (Phi) bt Bangkok Cobras (Tha) 86-58, Chang Thailand Slammers (Tha) bt Saigon Heats (Vie) 78-58, Singapore Slingers (Sin) lost to Indonesia Warriors (Ina) 59-79.