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Patriots look to draw 1st blood in semis duel with Dragons

January 30, 2010 6:36pm
The Philippine Patriots gun for a payback win against the Kuala Lumpur Dragons and a pivotal headstart in their best-of-three semifinal series Sunday in the 1st ASEAN Basketball League (ABL) at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City.

The Patriots go into the 4 p.m. Game 1 still smarting from an 77-59 rout they suffered at the hands of the Dragons three weeks ago in an elimination round road game in Malaysia.

That win seemed to have inspired the Dragons as they also defeated Singapore Slingers and Satria Muda BritAma in their next games to secure the fourth and last playoff seat.

“It just goes to show that the Dragons are no pushover. They defeated the league’s top three teams on their way to a semifinals ticket," said Patriots coach Louie Alas.

The Patriots have also rebounded from that shocking loss with back-to-back victories over the Thailand Tigers and the Brunei Barracudas to finish the six-team elimination with a league-best 11-4 card.

For their effort, the Patriots earned the home court advantage throughout the playoffs.

“For us to win, we have to play better defense because they (Dragons) have good outside shooters. We also have to play with more intensity," Alas said.

Freeman factor

Aside from steady defense, the Patriots will also have something new to offer against the Dragons in the person of import Gabe Freeman who replaced Brandon Powell.

Freeman is a far more consistent operator on both ends of the court compared to Powell. In fact, in his two games with the team, Freeman has averaged 20.5 points and 16.5 rebounds a contest. He is coming off a monster game of 20 points and 21 rebounds in leading the team to an 87-65 thrashing of the Baracudas.

Jason Dixon, who has posted 10 double-double performances in 15 outings and is contributing 15 points and 10 boards with two assists per game, will also be a big factor for the Patriots. Ditto local players like Jerwin Gaco, Warren Ybañez, Val Acuña, Elmer Espiritu and Nonoy Baclao.

The Dragon’s Chris Kuete and Jamal Brown will try to match the output of Freeman and Dixon while Filipino imports Rudy Lingganay, Roel Hugnatan and Fhadzmir Bandaying will be there for the much-needed support.

The winner of Game 1 will have the golden opportunity to close out the series on Feb. 3 at the MABA gym and advance into the best-of-five finals. Should there be a deciding Game 3, it will be held anew at the Ynares Arena on February 7.

The other semifinals matchup pits the Slingers and the Satria Muda BritAma at the Singapore Indoor Stadium. - GMANews.TV