ABL: Pringle puts Dragons on elimination brink

The Indonesia Warriors defended home court as they beat Westports Malaysia Dragons 77-65 to open up a 2-0 lead in their Playoff series.

Stanley Pringle
Marcus Chhan

By Marcus Chhan

Fresh from his match-winning display in Game 1 on Friday, Stanley Pringle was key again by pouring in 21 points to ensure Justin Melton's valiant effort of 28 points went to waste in Sunday's contest.

The Warriors now lead their best-of-five ASEAN Basketball League (ABL) Playoff Semi-final series against the Dragons by two games to nil.

There was no Marcus Hubbard again on Sunday as the Dragons import was still out due to illness and so Malaysian hopes turned to Moala Tautuaa for a lift.

But it didn't take long for the Fil-Am player's over eagerness to get him in trouble as three first quarter fouls - two offences on Chris Daniels alone - saw him head for the bench midway through the opening period.

Instead, the first quarter was dominated by Pringle.

The Indonesian outfit's star point-guard scored their first 10 points of the ball game - including a shot from beyond the arc - to allow the defending ABL champions to go up 16-15 heading into the second.

Dragons guard Melton, who scored seven points in the first period, kept it an even contest as the second quarter progressed.

In an exciting early exchange of blows that quarter, Melton thought he had given his side a four-point cushion with a tough make on a driving lay-up, only for Jerick Canada (11 points) to go back down the other end of the floor and hit a three.

But Melton refused to back down without a fight and he made a triple of his own on the next play and followed that up a little later with a crossover and step back jump shot to give the visitors the 31-25 edge with under five minutes in the quarter left.

Melton had 16 points at the half but the Dragons' lead shrunk to a single point after five quick points by John Smith late on.

Smith was again on the mark from long distance when the third quarter got underway. The former Saigon Heat guard was left wide open in the corner after the defence collapsed on a driving Pringle who spotted his team-mate for the easy score.

Smith's triple came with 6:39 on the clock in the third and handed the home team their biggest lead of the night at that point with seven points separating the two sides.

The Dragons looked to Melton once again to bring them back.

The Fil-Am showed his hang-time with a neat lay-up over Mario Wuysang to cut the lead and then whittled it down further to just two points at 53-51 with a three pointer with only a second left on the clock.

"He [Melton] played great. He did a lot for them [Malaysia]. Hubbard wasn't there and he did more than step up for them," Pringle said in his post-match TV interview for for FOX Sports.

That three was Melton's 25th point of the night but unfortunately for the Dragons he could only add three more points to the tally in the final period.

This came two minutes into the fourth quarter. On a Dragons' fast-break, Melton pulled up and made his fourth shot from downtown - he was 4/5 from three point range - to hand coach Ariel Vanguardia's men a slim one-point lead at 56-55.

"At least that was our real Dragons team that came out and played today [Sunday]," Vanguardia said.

But with Melton unable to add to his numbers from that point onwards, the Warriors began to pull away in the final stretch.

First, Daniels, who continues to be an all-around contributor with 11 points, 13 rebounds, three steals, and three blocks in Game 2, grabbed the defensive rebound and quickly played the right pass out for Pringle to score on an easy lay-up and allow the Warriors to retake the lead.

Then, Steven Demon Thomas (12 points, 13 rebounds) fought off two Malaysia defenders to get the hoop plus the foul.

Thomas would miss the bonus but that was probably the only blemish the Warriors import had in the final period as he scored again inside to make it 70-63 with just 1:51 remaining. This time Thomas got John Ng up with a head fake before finishing over the static Gavin Edwards.

Edwards had 14 points and 10 rebounds for the Dragons but turned the ball over seven times which did not help Malaysia's cause.

"Both games have been pretty physical, we came out swinging this afternoon and did a good job of matching the intensity, unfortunately we just couldn't get the stops in the end," Edwards said.

It was left to Thomas bring the house down at Mahaka Square with a steal near halfcourt. He galloped down the floor unmarked for the one-handed jam which helped push out the final margin of victory to 12 points.

Hubbard's absence was a factor on Sunday as the Warriors finished with +27 rebounds over the Dragons.

"Give a lot of credit to the Dragons. They were a little short handed [with Hubbard's illness] and played very well. We had to play a full 40 minutes to get the win," Warriors coach Todd Purves said.

The Warriors wrapped up Game 2 with a 77-65 win and the defending ABL champions can sweep the best-of-five series if they beat the Dragons in Malaysia on Wednesday in Game 3.

Quarter scoring: Q1(16-15) Q2(18-20) Q3(19-16) Q4(24-14)

Full-Time: Warriors 77-65 Dragons

Warriors: Pringle - 21, Thomas - 12, Canada - 11, Smith - 17, Daniels - 11, Wuysang - 9.

Dragons: Melton - 28, Edwards - 14, Tautuaa - 9, Armon - 7, Ng - 5.

2013 ABL Playoffs Game Centre

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