It’s alway fun when Hitech Bangkok City play the KL Dragons. We need more match ups like this one.
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The Dragons vs. Hitech Bangkok City is one of the closest contested series in these past two years. They’ve only played two games this season, but both have been battled to the wire with plenty of on-court drama in between. Dragons won the first game by 6 points and Hitech retaliated with a 4 point win in the Dragon’s Den in game 2.
I expect nothing less in this game.
The Dragons seem to be peaking at the right time. Or at least Calvin Godfrey is. Since the New Year’s break, Godfrey has never shot below 50% despite taking at least 14 shots. He’s been getting to the free throw line more frequently as well. Godfrey is making a nice claim for his World Import MVP bid. If he continues his form like this and the Dragons pick up 2 out of the final three games against the top 3 teams, he should be a shoo-in for the award.
In a weird twist, where Godfrey has picked up his efficiency, Matthew Wright has dropped significantly. Before the New Year’s break, Wright had only one game where he shot less than 37.5% from long range (43.8% in total). Since then, he’s shot only 28.3% and has topped the 37.5% in one game mark only once. 28.3% is still pretty good by ABL standards, but that is quite a drop for the sharpshooter.
I wonder what happened during that New Year’s break for the Dragons.
Hitech Bangkok City has seemed to have gone through some changes over the New Years as well.
Most notably are the changes that Tyler Lamb and Wuttipong Dasom has gone through. Since the change of the calendar, Tyler Lamb’s confidence seemed to have kicked up a notch. Before the break, he had never took more than 20 shots in a game (averaging around 16). Since then, he’s averaged 24 shots per game and only had one game where he didn’t make the 20 shot attempts mark and even then he took 19 shots anyways. Not to say it’s a completely bad thing, because he’s been shooting at almost the exact same efficiency rate (34.2% to 34.7%) but that means his shots are coming from somewhere else. Let’s just hope Coach Jing Ruiz has the situation under control.
As for Dasom, he’s once again looking more and more like the player we envisioned him to develop into towards the end of last year. He hit a bit of a wall with the injury he picked up after last season, but he seems to be coming back well. He’s been averaging 10.2 points since the New Year’s break after averaging only 5.6 points prior to that. Not only that, but he’s hasn’t had a game where he shot less than 50% in 2016. Quite an impressive feat for a major minute playing local.
The two teams are locked in at 12-4 and a win here could be the boost that nudges on ahead of the other. The Slingers vs Vampires play immediately before this game, and should the Mono Vampires pull off the upset, expect this game to have the atmosphere of a Game 7 Finals matchup.
X-Factor: Sukdave Ghogar
The National team big man has had a quiet season. Local big men don’t usually get much burn, considering the import hierarchy in this league, but Ghogar’s lack of minutes is still pretty concerning.
With that said however, I expect that Coach Jing might have to dig into his frontcourt rotation for this game. Thomas and Charles have logged 1199 minutes between themselves this season (which is 92.2% of their full capacity). Coach Jing should look into rotating minutes more wisely and give the local big man some burn.
It would undoubtedly give him more confidence going into the playoffs as well.
Hitech are coming off an impressive win over the Slingers, but that would count for their 6th straight game decided in single digits, including two losses along the way. The KL Dragons on the hand, have won six of their last seven games by double digits. It really does seem like momentum should be on the Dragons side.
However, the Dragons haven’t really proved themselves on the road and Hitech are coming off a long road trip.
It’s going to be another tight one for Hitech, but I expect them to edge it out by 5 points.
Feature Picture from Kuk Onvisa Thewphaingarm
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