Mega Force open ABA season with loss in Laie
Even after waiting a week to play their inaugural game, the Hawaii Mega Force had to endure a 75-minute delay to begin their game with Beijing Aoshen Olympian last night at the Cannon Activities Center on the Brigham Young University-Hawaii campus.
With its lethal jump shooters firing, Beijing (5-0) was able to overcome an early 11-point deficit to run away with the 114-101 win. Fred Vinson led Beijing with 24 points, while Huang Hai Bei added 20. University of Hawaii alum Jason Carter and Chris Moore led Hawaii with 20 points apiece.
Originally scheduled to open the season last month, the Mega Force had to wait a little bit longer to start. Awaiting the arrival of the Mega Force team jerseys after the scheduled 7 p.m. start, the game began at 8:15 p.m.
"I think the long delay pushed us back a little bit," Beijing coach LaShaun McDaniel said. "But it's their season opener, they're trying to get organized, and we understand that. It kind of played a part, but we overcame that."
The Mega Force (0-1), the state's first representative in the American Basketball Association, started their team history with a big test in Beijing, the top team in the Spencer Haywood Division with an unblemished 4-0 record. But Hawaii got off to a quick start, taking an 11-point lead in the first quarter thanks to Moore.
The 6-foot-9 forward lit up the Beijing defense with 12 points in the first quarter, sinking two 3-pointers in the period.
"I learned tonight that we got a lot of people who will put a lot of things on the side to come out and play hard, which is good," Moore said. "I wish we had the fans come out and support us and help us because at times when we're down in a game, it can help us shoot us back in a game."
A crowd of around 50 watched as the Mega Force slowly lost the lead early in the second quarter. Holding a four-point advantage at the end of the first quarter, the Mega Force soon found themselves playing from behind following back-to-back 3-pointers by Huo Nan and Huang.
After taking the lead, Beijing continued to shoot consistently, getting eight points from Zhang Song Tao. But it was the third quarter that proved to be disastrous for the Mega Force, as Beijing outscored Hawaii 27-16.
"I think what really killed us was when they started playing that zone defense because it got us stuck," Moore said. "We kind of figured it out toward the end, but I think we'll do much better tomorrow."
Coming off the bench, Carter helped the Mega Force keep pace in the fourth with 10 points in the period. But the gap was too large to overcome.
"I'm proud of these guys," Mega Force coach George Gilmore said. "For the limited amount of practice they've had, they played hard."
Gilmore said Hawaii had played together for only two weeks, with one practice a day.
"They look strong, and they have a great coach who I respect," McDaniel said of the Mega Force. "I think once they start playing games, and start to understand the ABA rules, and start giving (Gilmore) the respect and leadership he deserves, I think they'll be a very good team."
The two teams meet again today at 7 p.m. at the Cannon Activities Center.