Patriots seek victory No. 10, Battle Dragons in Kuala Lumpur
The AirAsia Philippine Patriots try to pick up another victory on the road with top-scoring import Anthony Johnson back from a one-game suspension in the Asean Basketball League.
Despite the return of his prolific import, coach Glenn Capacio hopes his locals will sustain their strong play against the Westports Malaysia Dragons in their 3 p.m. duel Saturday at the Maba Stadium in Kuala Lumpur.
The Patriots—drawing big games from new recruit Kiko Adriano, Aldrech Ramos and Al Vergara—kept their hold of the top spot at 9-2 despite the absence of Johnson and two other key cogs in their last outing Wednesday night.
“I don’t want to pressure myself by thinking I need to deliver every time. I just try to show the kind of game I have,” Adriano said after the Patriots downed the Saigon Heat, 73-57.
Capacio, though, expects a Malaysian side raring for a win following the Dragons’ back-to-back heartbreakers against the Saigon Heat (70-69) and Bangkok Cobras (85-81).
“They’re coming off losses, so they’ll likely do their best not to lose three straight in their homecourt,” said Capacio.
The Dragons, who previously stayed in the top two, fell to third at 7-4 behind the Patriots and the San Miguel Beermen (9-3).
Mentored by Filipino coach Ariel Vanguardia, the Dragons rely on the standout American duo of Tiras Wade and Brian Wil-liams and Filipino imports Patrick Cabahug and Nic Belasco.
Wade registered a 29.7-point average in his last six games, while Williams posted his 10th double-double this season after a 17-point, 13-rebound outing against the Cobras.
Johnson, who served a suspension for figuring in a brawl against San Miguel, hopes to post big numbers anew as the Patriots aim for a repeat of their first-round drubbing of the Dragons, 86-72.
“I did what I did against San Miguel and I paid for it, but I’m definitely pumped up and ready to play,” said Johnson, who averages 23.6 points a game.
Another Patriots victory will complete their sweep bid of a grueling three-game, 10-day road trip.