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The first time I watched a professional basketball game in person was a particularly memorable experience at Manila, and this got me into becoming a fan of KL Dragons, our very own team in the inaugural Asean Basketball League.

Last weekend Gareth, Kim, Horng, Selina, Kerol, and I went to catch the 2nd last home game of the 2009-2010 regular season at MABA stadium (located between Petaling Street and Stadium Negara). We were hosting the Philippines Patriots, the very same match up I watched in Manila.


Rogue Squadron performing “burn it up”, marching band, cheerleaders

Between the cheerleaders, Rogue Squardron performing KL Dragon’s theme song “Burn it up” (you can listen to it here), dude in Jason’s mask waving a giant flag, the marching band, and the loud music, the whole concept of sports entertainment was executed very well. It kinda reminds me of college ice hockey games back in the States.

It was already an enjoyable experience for the fans even before the game got started.


a very intense game between the Dragons and Patriots

After teams and KL Dragons’ five starters – Rudy, Roel, Fhadzmir, Jamal, and Chris were introduced, the game got started to loud cheers of the crowd.

Feeding off the energy from the crowd, the dragons jumped to a 10-1 lead. We kept building the lead until about 6 minutes left before half time when a scuffle broke out between the players.

After a lengthy review and discussion among the officials, KL Dragons had three players ejected from the game, including the top scorer in the league, Chris Kuete.


B. Guganeswaran charging to the paint

By half time, the score was 44-32 with the dragons leading. But with our top scorer off the game, the Patriots took advantage of a strong third quarter to cut the lead all the way down to 52-51. The crowd grew tense.

Then came the turning point of the game. One a drive towards the basket, point guard Rudy drove up and was fouled hard by one of the Patriots. Rudy stayed on the ground for several minutes before being helped back on his feet with a loud cheer by the crowd.


final score: KL Dragons 77, Philippines Patriot 59

That stirred up the intensity of our players to the next level, and Rudy himself was especially playing like a man possessed.

With the help of a very strong defensive showing that limited Patriots’ shooting to 28%, KL Dragons won the game 77-59 against the league leader with Rudy contributed a team high 14 point and two other players in double figure. It was definitely a team effort.

The crowd and players left a jubilant bunch, but the work is not done. Coach Goh will have to find a way to reignite the same fighting spirit for the remaining games to get a spot into the playoffs.

If schedule permits, I’m gonna be at the last home game too!

I spent over 4 years in the States for college and work, and was fortunate enough to have spent a year each living with an American family and in the dorm. This was the time I learnt to be appreciate American sports.

The four big professional leagues in the States are then NBA, NFL, MLB, and NHL. There are also a very lively scene in college sports too. However, with the exception of some games on Astro every now and again, they are not very popular here in Malaysia.


in Manila for 24 hr, and on the way back with KL Dragons

Attending games and being able to catch these games live on TV on almost daily basis were pretty much the things I miss most about the States since coming back to Malaysia.

Enter Asean Basketball League, South East Asia’s very own professional basketball league that is currently made up of 6 teams from the region. The teams are:


hard fought game between KL Dragons and Philippines Patriots at Manila

I was rather excited that we now have a professional basketball team in KL, and even more stoked when I found out I had a chance to travel to Manila to attend an away game of KL Dragons versus the Philippine Patriots. I jumped to the opportunity even though I know it’ll be a very short and hasty travel.

So the weekend before Christmas I went to Manila for a trip that lasted almost exactly 24 hours to catch the game.


KL Dragons head coach Mr. Goh Cheng Huat

Due to the insane traffic situation in the most congested city I’ve ever visited, I arrived at Ynares Arena right at about half time (the journey started from 5am in Malaysia, but that’s another post in another time).

KL Dragons was trailing by 1 point against the favorites at home, the score was 38-37 to start the second half. Although the stadium wasn’t exactly filled (most likely due to the traffic), I could sense the excitement and energy both in the crowd and the players.


the game was broadcast on ESPN with live commentary on radio too

The familiar feeling of adrenaline rush immediately over powered my fatigue from being on the road in the past 12 hours.

Third quarter was a back and forth affair, with each team answering each other basically basket to basket. The Patriots had home field advantage, the crowd was with them, and loud speakers booming “DEFENSE DEFENSE” whenever the Dragons had possession. It was a tough, but we kept with it.

The quarter ended 55-54 favoring the Patriots.


KL Dragons – close relationship and good team work  chemistry

In the early going on forth quarter, we managed to kept pace. It wasn’t until about 2 minutes left in the game that the Patriots somehow managed pull away due to a couple critical baskets and tough defensive stance (some might argue that it was slightly aided by the lack of calls). We lost the game at 76-70, but we did put up a very good fight.

Everyone was feeling a bit down after the game in the locker room. Coach Goh and Team Manager Mr. Wee gave their talks and what the team faces the rest of the season. The goal is to get to the playoffs, and we have a legitimate shot at it.

I joined the team for dinner and next day’s flight back to KL, and they were some of the funniest and down to earth bunch of guys you can find. I ended up talking to Jamal Brown for quite a bit since he is an American and we have a common topic in American sports.

I have my calendar circled for their next home game at MABA on the 5th Jan 2010, facing Satria Muda at home. Support our local team, be there! KL Dragons have 3 more home games, their full schedule can be found here.

See you on Jan 5 Jamal and gang!