Members of the Vancouver Dragons basketball team with the Minor League Basketball Association’s Northwest Conference championship trophy Saturday (June 30) at Tamanawis Secondary’s gym in Surrey. (Photo: facebook.com/DragonsVanBasketball)

Dragons home in Surrey for pro league’s ‘Final Four’ basketball playoffs

MLBA teams to battle at Panorama Ridge Secondary gym this weekend

By Trevor Beggs, contributor

If only the Vancouver Grizzlies were this good in their inaugural season.

In the first year of existence for Minor League Basketball Association (MLBA), the lone team from Canada remains in contention for the title. The Vancouver Dragons take their 12-1 record into the North American League Championship this weekend at Panorama Ridge Secondary in Surrey, with four conference winners battling for league supremacy.

The Dragons began their season at Trinity Western’s David E. Enarson Centre but later moved to Tamanawis due to scheduling conflicts.

Now, another prominent basketball school in Surrey gets to host the league’s Final Four playoffs.

It hasn’t mattered where the Dragons play, because they just keep finding ways to win while posting a plethora of points. The Dragons also have a secret to their success, something that all other MLBA teams lack.

“When we started the season, we had an American coach (Don Sim) bringing in American guys,” said Jason Stevens, the team’s media relations co-ordinator. “We made a coaching change midseason (to Dikran Zabunyan) and brought in more Canadian content.”

“Most of the guys on our team are Canadian, and it has really worked out for us.”

• RELATED STORY: Idea for Surrey stadium bounced by Vancouver Dragons basketball team.

The Dragons roster is full of guys who excel in their roles, but Vancouver native Levon Kendall has been their star player. The six-foot-10 forward has helped the team score an average of 117 points per game this season.

“He should win MVP this season,” Stevens said. “If he doesn’t, we’ll be shocked.”

All the players in the MLBA have played college basketball, but there is some potential NBA talent on the court.

“The MLBA is a developmental league,” Stevens said. “We’re supportive of our players and we want to get them to the next level.”

According to Stevens, the only guy who stood a chance at knocking off Kendall as league MVP was his teammate Usama Zaid. The Vancouver Island University product, the 2017 Canadian College basketball player of the year, was gone for a chunk of the season, working out with the NBA’s Phoenix Suns.

Even without one of the league’s best talents, the Dragons continued to dominate. They suffered their only loss of the season against the Quad City Flames back on May 26. They avenged that loss by defeating the Flames 120-112 last weekend, effectively punching their ticket to the final four.

They now look to become the league’s first champion on home soil, as they face off against Arkansas Bobcats, Oklahoma City Outlaws and Huntsville Force.

The Dragons head into the weekend as favourites to win it all. Stevens likes his team’s chances of taking home the championship, but they’ll have to get through Arkansas first, starting at 6 p.m. Saturday (July 7) at Panorama Ridge school gym, 13220 64th Ave., Surrey. The other semifinal matches Huntsville with Oklahoma City at 8 p.m.

“Their owner guaranteed a championship, so that probably means we’re going to win,” Stevens joked.

If the Dragons do win on Saturday, they will play for the championship on Sunday afternoon (July 8) starting at 3 p.m.

Tickets can be purchased at the door or by calling the Dragons at 778-591-5989. Seats are $10 VIP courtside or $5 General Admission, or get a weekend pass for all three games for $15 VIP courtside or $10 General Admission.

Visit the Vancouver Dragons website (vancouverdragons.com) for more information. Details are also posted at mlbahoops.com.

Just Posted

Surrey’s top cop says city ‘could be safer’ with more officers,

City’s proposed budget suggests no RCMP will be added to force in 2019

PSA ad campaign targets young women involved with gangs

Crime Stoppers campaign encourages girls to reject being lured into the gangster lifestyle

White Rock to allow dogs on promenade

Plans for a one-year pilot program would continue to ban canines on waterfront from May to August

In split vote, Surrey council gives early nod to draft budget

Councillors Locke, Pettigrew, Hundial and Annis vote against capital program

Delta man charged in relation to North Delta thefts

Taranjot Singh Grewal, 40, of Delta, is facing five theft-related charges

Heavy rain, wind cause power outages in White Rock

Chance of showers throughout the evening

B.C. Lions hire DeVone Claybrooks as head coach

Former Stampeders DC succeeds CFL legend Wally Buono

France shooting: 2 dead, several wounded in Strasbourg

A world-famous Christmas market was put on lock down on Tuesday

Canadian warship witnesses possible violations of North Korea sanctions

Crew members on HMCS Calgary took photos and collected other information

Christine Sinclair named Canadian Women’s player of the year again

This is the 14th time Sinclair has been named player of the year

B.C. man wants trapping laws changed after dog killed

Louis Seguin’s 10-month-old Australian shepherd died in a body-gripping trap last month

Nearly 8,000 homeless in B.C., first province-wide count reveals

Twenty-four seperate counts in B.C. cities found there are thousands of homeless in all corners of province

White Rock to allow dogs on promenade

Plans for a one-year pilot program would continue to ban canines on waterfront from May to August

Most Read