KUALA LUMPUR — Westports Malaysia Dragons coach Ariel Vanguardia took the blame for his team’s loss in Game One of the 2016 ABL Finals, but vowed that his team will play better on Sunday before the series moves to Singapore.
The Dragons, the top-seed team after the elimination round, led by as many as 13 in the opener of the best-of-five ABL finals series against the Singapore Slingers but failed to hold on and lost homecourt edge with an 80-84 loss.
“We will go back to the tape but I told the boys I take full responsibility for this loss,” said Vanguardia after the game at the MABA Stadium here.
Vanguardia credited Singapore for its play in Game One, specifically Kris Rosales limiting Malaysia’s Fil-Canadian Matthew Wright to only two points in the second half and Xavier Alexander and Justin Howard leading the Slingers on offense.
Singapore also started out the fourth quarter with a 13-3 run, including a stretch where the Slingers scored 10 straight points en route to building a 77-69 lead and never let up the rest of the way.
“You have to give credit to Singapore. They came here prepared with their defensive game plan. They didn’t quit. It’s a game of runs and our adjustments would have come earlier,” said Vanguardia.
Vanguardia said the Dragons will go all out for Game Two especially with the next two matches after that to be held on the road at the OCBC Arena in Singapore.
“They stole our homecourt advantage. If you are the away team, that’s what you are going to tell your team. We got to protect homecourt advantage because it’s pretty difficult to win two games,” said Vanguardia.
In order to win, the veteran mentor said defense will be the key after Alexander, Howard, and Rosales combined for 64 points in Game 1.
“We have to sustain our defensive intensity. We limited them to below 40 points in the first half but we didn’t limit them below 40 in the second half. I think that was the key,” said Vanguardia.