Friday May 11, 2012
Dragons’ coach Vanguardia takes blame for defeat
By KNG ZHENG GUAN
PETALING JAYA: Westports Malaysia Dragons coach Ariel Vanguardia has accepted the blame for the team’s defeat by the Jobstreet.com Singapore Slingers on Wednesday.
With a playoff spot already secured, the Dragons needed only to beat the Slingers in their last match of the Asean Basketball League (ABL) to clinch third spot in the league and a potentially easier opponent in the next round. But it was a huge letdown, especially for fans who came to watch the Dragons extend their winning run to five matches, as the team simply did not show up.
After a close first quarter, which saw the Dragons trailing 24-28, a massive second quarter by the Slingers put the game beyond doubt with a 62-39 score.
A late charge in the second half was too little too late as the Dragons’ winning momentum came to an abrupt halt despite the valiant efforts of Brian Williams and Tiras Wade, who contributed 30 and 27 points respectively.
“I take full responsibility for the defeat because I didn’t prepare the team well,” said Vanguardia.
“Having already clinched the playoff spot we relaxed a little and were well beaten.
“Brian was also sick and missed a few days of practice and his fever returned after the first quarter despite him scoring 30 points. It does hurt our momentum in losing to the Slingers but we have some time on our side. A couple of tough, intense weeks of training and we’ll be ready for the playoffs,” said Vanguardia.
The Dragons remain in third spot despite the defeat to an already eliminated Slingers because fourth-place Indonesia Warriors were not in action midweek.
The Dragons’ fate rests on how the Warriors perform against the Slingers next Sunday. A win for the Indonesian side would condemn the Dragons to fourth place and a tricky meeting with favourites San Miguel Beermen in the playoffs.