Dragons to breathe fire

SPORTING CHANCE - Joaquin Henson - The Philippine Star

The Bay Area Dragons are coming to Manila on Aug. 1 and will stay in the Shangri-La Hotel at the Fort, BGC, for 243 days while using the city as a base for their home-and-away games in EASLs inaugural season to start Oct. 12. The Dragons will also play as a guest team in the PBA Commissioners Cup, opening on Sept. 21, with the right to win the championship.

The Dragonsinitial 10-man roster was recently released to media and from the looks of the personnel, theyre dead serious in aiming for a double victory in the PBA and EASL. First, their coach Brian Goorjian is top-caliber whose claim to fame is delivering Australias only Olympic medal in mens basketball at the Tokyo Games last year. Second, theyve looped in former Philadelphia, Toronto and Phoenix general manager Bryan Colangelo to work with the team. Colangelo is expected to be involved in signing up two top-notch imports for the EASL wars, one of whom will see action in the PBA. Because of his extensive NBA network, Colangelo shouldnt find it difficult to bring in blue-chippers from the NBA ranks with a height limit of 6-9 15/16. And third, the Dragons will unleash a massive frontline, excluding the two imports, with 7-5 Liu Chuanxing, 6-11 Zhang Zhiyuan, 6-9 Duncan Reid and 6-6 Zheng Qilong.

Bay Areas “locallineup is made up of recruits from Greater China to cover the Mainland, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan. Liu is a former Chinese national player with Australian league experience. Zhang was a Chinese national youth standout. Reid is a five-time Hong Kong A-1 division champion. Zheng is a Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) pro. Other CBA veterans in the cast are Qiao Wenhan, Si Kun and Song Jianhua. A key player is 6-3 Canada-born guard Kobey Lam who suited up for Williston State junior college, D-1 Denver University and D-2 University of Charleston.

Filipino fans get a chance to size up the Dragons when they play the visiting ASVEL Lyon-Villeurbanne team in a friendly at the Smart Araneta Coliseum on Aug. 31. ASVELs coach is owner Tony Parkers brother Terence. A headturner on the squad is Giannis Antetokounmpos brother Kostas, a 6-10 center who has played for the Dallas Mavericks and Los Angeles Lakers. The squad has two towers in 7-foot Babacar Mbye of Gambia and 7-3 Youssoupha Fall of Senegal. Leading the charge is 6-4 Antoine Diot who played for France in the Olympic qualifying tournament in Manila in 2016 and the Rio Olympics that year. The Americans in the roster are 6-3 Marcos Knight of Middle Tennessee State, 6-9 James Gist of the University of Maryland, 6-2 Chris Jones of the University of North Texas and Angelo State and 6-9 Dylan Osetkowski of Tulane University and the University of Texas.

PBA commissioner Willie Marcial welcomed the Dragons entry. “The Dragons will surely help elevate the level of basketball in the Philippines and among top Chinese talent,” he said. Dragons general manager Liu Quansheng said, “Adding coach Goorjian was the first step in building a team that competes with the bestnow were working with top players from Greater China to deliver a product that Chinese fans everywhere can be proud of.”


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