2019 MPL D League Finals Game 1 Recap (31/5/2019)
f you are a KL Dragons supporter, its a good time to basking in the feel good factor.
However if your team is Red Baron Youth, then you’ve got to be prepared to live through the horror once again.
Because Red Baron tried so hard and gave it a good go but faded so badly in Game 1 of the MPL Development League (D-League) Finals.
The Dragons were in fact so ruthless in their 78-56 hammering of Red Baron that they are now almost sure bets to clinch the D-League title on a record high – by completing the season unbeaten.
First Quarter Eng Hong show
It didn’t all start so bad for Red Baron as they set out to play and packed their defences to limit the scoring capabilities of Wee Yong Gan.
It seemed to work as Yong Gan went 0-5 from the three point line in the opening minutes and struggled to get clear of either Lee Jia Jun or Ng Zhen Yu.
Still the Dragons had the early command as Low Meng Lek took charge to set up his team for an early 10-5 lead.
Red Baron head coach Choo Chee Sen then inserted Keng Eng Hong into the game at 6:26 on the clock and he made an instant impact, firing off two back-to-back three pointers as Red Baron swung it around to lead 11-10.
League leading scorer Yong Gan would however finally get into the scoring act as he sank a much needed three pointer as the clock ran down in the first period.
But it was Red Baron would then finish the quarter the stronger of two teams as Eng Hong continued his high scoring production, dropping two more triples to go along with a floater as he stood out with 14 points in the first period.
With Eng Hong’s scoring prowess and Goh Yan Qing getting into good positions under the basket, Red Baron would close out the quarter 24-19.
Yong Gan comes alive in the second quarter
Red Baron’s downfall was however their failure to pay attention to how the Dragons have been passing the ball better and were slowly getting into the game.
In particular Yong Gan, who was starting to shake off his markers as the Dragons’ big men started set up the screens for him to fire away.
And the Melakan duly made them pay as he went on a 11-point scoring run without reply, including three downtown shots in a row to completely swing the tie into the Dragons’ favour.
That really knocked the sails out of Red Baron and they really struggled to impose themselves once again and start to make hasty shots.
They did close it down to four points before the break to give themselves some breathing space against the Dragons’ onslaught.
But the momentum has well and truly shifted and the Dragons were not going to need a second invitation.
Complete shutdown in the second half
And it was a complete lockdown after the break as Red Baron just appeared to have lost the same high energy levels they had in the first two periods.
They continued to press hard but they were misfiring far too often for comfort.
In addition, the Dragons really seemed to step up the intensity as the game wore on and were now utilising their deadly full court press to force turnovers from Red Baron.
To make matters worse, Dragons’ John Wong was showing the same kind of form that won him the Finals MVP award last year.
They would eventually go on to lead 62-50 at the end of the third period and the match was essentially over.
In fact, Red Baron only managed 6 more points in the final 10 minutes as they just ran out of gas and ideas against the relentless Dragons.
Yong Gan proved that it would take a superhuman effort to stop him as he finished with a game-high 24 points.
John, in his best scoring display, would plop in 15 markers and 7 boards while Meng Lek had another solid outing with 11 points.
For Red Baron, Eng Hong’ early spurt of scoring saw him finish with 18 points while the backcourt pair of Jia Jun and Zhen Yu had 10 and 11 points respectively.
It is however a really poor finish from Red Baron and they surely need to double up the efforts in Game 2 in order to force a deciding Game 3.
Player of the Game: Wee Yong Gan (24 points, 4 rebounds, 3 steals, 2 assists)
Win factor: The Dragons really destroyed Red Baron in transition and in the paint, taking up 31 points from turnovers and 48 points in the paint compared to just 22.
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