Second, before heading over to Indonesia for two games, the NBA Legend team made a stop in Kuala Lumpur for a game and some clinics for children. From the pictures of the main event, it looks like there was a good turnout. While any basketball exposure in Malaysia is positive, this event helped spark interest in the upcoming NBL season.
NBL Malaysia kicked off its 10th season this past weekend. The league includes four teams this year, the Westport KL Dragons, the Miri Fire Horses (in Borneo), Perak Farmcochem (Northern Malaysia), and the Singapore Siglap Basketball Club. Miri and Siglap are new to the league this year. The inclusion of the Miri team was especially interesting to me as there were discussions at the end of the last ASEAN Basketball League season that the Brunei franchise would be moved to Miri. Note: For everyone who lives outside of Malaysia, Miri is a city of around 300,000 people in the Malaysian province of Sarawak that sits about 30 miles from the Brunei border.
First Weekend Results
1) Perak Farmcochem – 3-0
2) KL Dragons – 2-1
3) Miri Fire Horse – 1-2
4) Singapore Siglap – 0-3
According to NBL Commisioner Tan Kee Hian each team is allowed three import players but teams can only suit up two per game. At this point in time only KL has used three different import players. I have ranked the import players below based on their individual performances over the first weekend’s games.
1) Anthony Johnson (Miri) – 24.7 ppg and 14.3 rpg. Readers of this site will remember Johnson from his recent play with Dell ASPAC in the LA Lights World Challenge. Johnson also suited up for the Philippine Patriots during the inaugural ABL season. Johnson is a high volume scorer who also loves to grab rebounds.
2) Chris Kuete (Perak) – 22.3 ppg and 14.7 rpg. A familiar name to basketball fans in Southeast Asia. Kuete has played in both ABL seasons and has played in both Malaysia and Thailand for various teams. His scoring prowess makes him a fan favorite. He has lead his Perak squad to a 3-0 first place start.
3) Mike Pilgrim (Miri) – 23.3 ppg and 11.7 rpg. Another ABL alum, Pilgrim played for Brunei during the league’s first season. Pilgrim plays above the rim, and seems to have created a world class highlights reel this season already.
4) Anthony Kent (KL) – 16.3 ppg and 13 rpg. Kent played for Fort Wayne in the D League for three seasons. This is his first stint in Asia. At 6'11" he was brought in to control the interior on both sides of the floor. After three games it looks like he is doing that pretty well.
5) Antoine Broxsie (Singapore) – 16.7 ppg and 12.7 apg. Another familiar face from the ASEAN League, but this time from Satria Muda. Broxsie was an interesting choice as the lone non-Asian import on the Singapore team. He is not a natural scorer or shot creator, but has done pretty well so far in providing solid offensive numbers. Broxsie has a bigger load to carry this season than any of the other imports.
6) Bryson McKenzie (Perak) – 12 ppg and 15.7 rpg. Another D-League vet and teammate of former KL Dragons star Alex Hartman (with the Vancouver Volcanoes) this is McKenzie’s first job in Asia. Perak obviously is looking for him to be an interior presence on both end of the court to pair with Kuete's perimeter abilities.
7) Waki Williams (KL) – 12.5 ppg and 10.5 rpg. Williams played his college ball at the University of Memphis and has since played in a number of countries. Probably his best stint was two seasons ago playing in the bj-league where he averaged 17 ppg.
8) Al Vergara (Singapore) – 13ppg, 3 rpg, and 3 apg. Known around SEA as a PBA veteran and guard for the Singapore Slingers. Vergara is a crafty scorer, but struggled to get his points in two of the first three games. Overall he is averaging 13 ppg and 3 rpg.
9) Ricardo Alonzo (KL) – 10 ppg and 4rpg. The other Filipino import, Alonzo has only suited up for one game for the Dragons. He scored 10 points and grabbed 4 rebounds but also fouled out in only 21 minutes of action.
Top Local Players
The local players have struggled for the most part up to this point. Only six different local players have scored in double figures in a game during the first six games. The key to winning this league is going to be which team’s local players step up consistently.
1) Steven Khoo (Singapore) – His 19 point performance on Sunday was the highest scoring output for a local player so far this season. Khoo is a member of the Slingers and Singapore national squad, so it is not surprising that he is stepping up to lead the Siglap squad. He is averaging 9.3 ppg over the first three contests.
2) Chuan Chin Wee (Perak) – A Malaysian National Team player, Chuan leads all local scorers with an average of 9.7 ppg and is the only local to score in double figures in two different contests.
3) Batumalai Guganeswaran (KL) – Point guard for both the Malaysian National Team and the KL Dragonsin the ABL, Guganeswaran is averaging 7 ppg, but more importantly leading the league in assists at 4.3 a match.
The second round of action begins tonight in Miri. All three teams will again play each other.