Dragons set to renew Slingers rivalry

Westports Malaysia Dragons coach Ariel Vanguardia is determined to be the one smiling after Sunday's showdown with the Jobstreet.com Singapore Slingers.

Donald Dulay
Marcus Chhan

By Marcus Chhan

Vanguardia was left to pick up the pieces a month ago following a 68-67 loss to the Slingers at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.

The defeat marked a four game losing skid for the Dragons leaving them at 2-4 to start the 2013 ASEAN Basketball League (ABL) season.

Since then, the Malaysians battled hard to try and get back to .500 taking the next two of their three games with victory to now lie fourth in the standings at 4-5.

Understandably, the Dragons are itching to set the record straight on Sunday when the Slingers roll into MABA Stadium for their rematch.

"Itching is an understatement," Vanguardia told FOX Sports.

"We really want to redeem ourselves from being humiliated in the rebounding that game leading to the defeat."

The Slingers outrebounded the Dragons 45-33 during the narrow victory with import Kyle Jeffers impressing with 24 points and 13 rebounds.

However, the ABL veteran will not feature in Sunday's game because of a nagging foot injury ruling him out for months rather than weeks.

In his place, the Singaporeans brought in 7-foot tall American centre Rashaad Singleton this week.

"Singleton is a giant. After watching his videos online, it is impossible to defend him one-on-one. We need to defend as a team to keep him out. We have our work cut out for us," Vanguardia said.

With Singleton and rebound monster Rashad Jones-Jennings - he leads the league with 16.38 boards per game - set to combine on Sunday; the Dragons know they cannot afford to be lax on defence.

"That's practically 80 percent of our practices. Working on our defence and rebounding," said the Dragons coach.

The Slingers (4-4) currently sit one place above the Dragons in the ABL table in third. A road victory for them this weekend would certainly give them a bit more breathing room as they look to secure a place in the post-season.

"I am happy [with our record so far] but I think it could have been a little bit better," Slingers point-guard Donald Dulay said.

"I think we are getting into our groove now. We're working hard so going into this game we're confident. We're ready."

Crucial to a Slingers win will be how well Neo Beng Siang's chargers defend in transition. The Dragons love to run at teams and in new signing Sammy Monroe, the Malaysians have a proven scorer.

"I've played against Sammy in the PBA before and he's a gunner and a true scorer so we have to watch him," Dulay said.

After a pair of 32 point performances, Monroe was limited to only 12 points in his third game with the Dragons which resulted in a 77-66 loss to the San Miguel Beermen last Saturday in Manila.

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