By Marcus ChhanFollow @@MarcusChhan
The ASEAN Basketball League (ABL) is braced for a crunch clash when the defending champions and league leading Warriors (12-3) travel to Kuala Lumpur to play the Dragons in search of a sixth straight win.
The Dragons (8-7) are third in the ABL standings and have won their last five home games, but will be looking to get off the mark in their season series with the Warriors on Friday at MABA Stadium. Todd Purves' men have already beaten the Malaysians three times this year - including at last month's ABL Hoops Fest in Saigon.
The Warriors blew open what was a close game in Vietnam with seven three pointers in the third quarter to hand the Dragons an 84-67 loss.
Speaking before Friday's game, Vanguardia paid the rampant Indonesians a huge compliment by comparing the Warriors to NBA Champions the Miami Heat. Similarly to the Indonesians, the Heat have enjoyed a stellar season since being crowned champions in the previous campaign, and recently set the best record in the current NBA regular season.
"The defending champs Indonesia Warriors are dominating just like the NBA's Miami Heat," Vanguardia told FOX Sports.
"[Mario] Wuysang has been unconscious from three point range and with John Smith and Jerick Canada also hitting their threes; you can't really pick your poison.
"We learned it the hard way in the last game [against the Warriors] because we had some success with our zone defence but we paid dearly when they torched us in the third quarter with seven threes."
The Warriors cruise into Friday's rematch fresh from an 83-74 road win over the Sports Rev Thailand Slammers on Wednesday night.
Mario Wuysang continued his hot shooting by scoring 23 points on 8 of 9 shooting.
Wuysang has nailed 21 three pointers for the Warriors in their last five wins and with star point guard Stanley Pringle set to return from a long injury layoff, the Indonesian backcourt is looking formidable.
Pringle has been out since the start of the season after undergoing surgery on a meniscus injury but is expected to be activated later this month leaving Warriors' coach Purves with a nice selection problem before the post-season arrives.
Last season's ABL coach of the year only has three ASEAN import spots to fit John Smith, Jerick Canada, Richard Smith and Stanley Pringle.
"Coach Todd was probably looking at his team when he said the Dragons could be the most talented team heading to the Playoffs, because right now we are still not there yet," Vanguardia said.
"Honestly, I think we have not yet peaked as a team. With all our injuries, I just hope we rack up more W's to advance to the playoffs and by that time be 100% helathy to make a run at it."
The Dragons have had nine days of rest after suffering a 68-63 loss to Slammers at Nimibutr Stadium, Thailand.
Loh Shee Fai and Yoong Jing Kwaan will not play on Friday while Dragons' captain Guga Batumalai is still recovering from a gash on his forehead sustained against the Slammers that required 14 stitches.