Taipei, Feb. 1 (CNA) Taiwan's Formosa Dreamers got their revenge against the visiting Kuala Lumpur Dragons in Changhua City on Saturday in an ASEAN Basketball League (ABL) game at which NBA superstar Kobe Bryant was also remembered.
The Dreamers topped the Dragons 85-79 after having fallen to the Malaysian team by one point the last time the two teams met on Jan. 12. That game was decided on a late jumper by the Dragons' American forward Amir Bell to give his team an 80-79 victory in Kuala Lumpur.
There were no such theatrics on Saturday, as the Dreamers rode American forward's Jerran Young's 20 points and playmaker Anthony Tucker's 22 points to victory.
Young's explosive play coupled with Tucker's hot shooting from inside and beyond the arc helped the Dreamers build a 79-73 with just over two minutes left, and a series of fouls by the Dragons and a technical on Dragons' center William Artino helped Formosa hold on.
It was the Dreamers' fifth win in the team's last six games, including a 30-point rout of the Saigon Heat 95-65 on Jan. 18, and vaulted them to fourth place in the 10-team ABL with a 7-6 record.
The Dragons fell to seventh place at 4-5.
The game started by paying tribute to Bryant. After the tip-off, the Dragons held the ball for 24 seconds followed by the Dreamers for eight seconds in the backcourt in honor of the NBA superstar who wore No. 24 and No. 8 during his career with the Los Angeles Lakers.
The 41-year-old Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna were among nine people who perished when the helicopter they were in crashed over Calabasas, California about 30 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles on Jan. 26.
As for the game, the Dreamers led for most of the first half but the Dragons went into the locker room with a one-point lead after Artino and Bell landed buckets at the end of the second quarter.
Dreamers head coach Kyle Julius, a former Canadian men's national team player, said the two-week break over the Lunar New Year took a toll on his team early.
"I just think we were a little bit rusty. We missed a couple of our assignments on defense," he said. "I thought we got great shots, a lot of good shots (but) the ball wasn't going in."
The Dreamers rebounded after the break to take a 56-53 lead after three quarters but fell behind 68-65 before new center Ryan Watkins, scored six points in an 11-3 run that gave the Changhua team the lead for good.
Dreamers guard Chen Shin-nien (陳世念) said his team was prepared for the Dragons this time round.
"They are a very strong team, but we were ready for them because we had a good plan from our coach," he said.
The Dreamers will next play the Saigon Heat in Changhua on Sunday.
The ABL 2019-2020 season began Nov. 16, 2019 with 10 teams from East Asia and Southeast Asia competing for the title. The regular season runs until March 29.