By Marcus ChhanFollow @@MarcusChhan
Basketball is behind football in terms of being the most followed sport in Malaysia but that is not to say the game, invented in 1891, does not enjoy healthy support.
The Dragons are one of the founding members of the ASEAN Basketball League (ABL) - now in its fourth season - while a mix of local and international brands have deemed it a worthwhile sponsorship investment including RHB Investment Bank Berhad, Li-Ning, and Budweiser to name a few.
On Thursday, the Malaysian side announced the launch of the Dragons Development Initiative which will fork out 100 tickets for students aged 17 and below for every home game in the current ABL season.
The idea is that by making it easier for youths to observe professional basketball matches, it will increase their exposure to basketball and create more interest in the game as a professional sport in Malaysia.
The Dragons Development Initiative falls under the umbrella of the newly established Dragons Academy. According to the club, its main objective is to provide comprehensive training for students to realise their potential in basketball by developing their talents.
To be part of the programme, students are required to download and fill-up a Dragons Academy form on their website.
In the ABL, teams are allowed to fill their rosters with two world imports, three ASEAN imports, and between five and 12 local players.
For most of the ABL's coaches, finding the right balance between winning games and nurturing local talent has been a challenge.
"This season we've put more emphasis on extending our rotation to give our young guys like Kuek Tian Yuan and Loh Shee Fai more playing time," Dragons coach Ariel Vanguardia told FOX Sports.
"There are also plans of having a second team [like a farm team] in the future to nurture young talents."
Kuek and Loh have averaged around 4.5 minutes and 13.5 minutes this season, respectively. Dragons captain Guga Batumalai leads the way for the locals, playing over 20 minutes per contest this season and averaging 5.4 points.