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-Langley curlers in the running again for gold

Junior men’s team out of Langley hopes to defend its world title Sunday, going up against Switzerland

Surrey Central SkyTrain Station upgrades completed

It’s the seventh station along Expo Line to see upgrades completed. Construction began in March 2017

Semiahmoo Trail students surpass Coldest Night fundraising goal

Rocco Forte and his team are third-year participants in Saturday’s Coldest Night of the Year walk

Tardi and team playoff bound in junior curling worlds tonight

Friday night Team Canada’s men’s team faces off against Norway, hoping to secure a spot in the finals

Surrey students learn the ins and outs of business through workers’ co-operative

Mentors work with youth in voluntary after-school program

People gather for funeral of seven children killed in fast-moving Halifax fire

Traditional portion of the service will be followed by words from community members

B.C. weavers to help Alaska Native project honouring survivors of violence

Dozens of Chilkat and Ravenstail weavers from all over North America will be weaving 5-inch-by-5-inch squares

B.C. skip Sarah Wark and team eliminated at Scotties Tournament of Hearts

Nontheless pretty impressive stuff from the 24th-ranked team in the country

Twilight Drive-In announces open season start date

Opening weekend will showcase a double feature with Aquaman at 7:15 p.m. and Glass at 9:50 p.m.

Pope’s sex abuse prevention summit explained

It’s A high-stakes meeting designed to impress on Catholic bishops the global problem

UPDATE: B.C. ticket holder winner of $25.9-million Lotto Max jackpot

Next draw set for Mar. 1 with an estimated jackpot of $10 million

VIDEO: Giants earn 40th victory in a 4-0 triumph over Victoria

G-Men move within a point of clinching the B.C. division banner at Friday’s at-home game in Langley

Girl heard saying ‘Help my Dad’ in suspicious radio message on Vancouver Island

Police asking for help following mysterious signals from somewhere between Comox and Sayward

Most Read