By Marcus ChhanFollow @@MarcusChhan
Rashad Jones-Jennings shrugged off a slow first quarter to finish the game with a double-double with 11 points and 13 rebounds to lead the Slingers to the win on his debut.
The Slammers - ABL Champions in the 2010/11 season - were out of sync offensively for large periods of the game but defended excellently down the stretch to stay in the contest. Justin Howard put up 13 points and 14 rebounds in his first game for the Thais.
The game began in predictable fashion for the Slingers with Kyle Jeffers registering the first two points of the ABL 2013 season for the Slingers with a jump-shot. The American import is in his fourth year with the Singapore club and averaged just over 19 points per game as well as 12.67 rebounds per game last season.
In contrast, Jennings struggled to find his feet early on in what was his ABL debut going 0/4 in the first quarter and only making one of two free-throw attempts.
But the Slammers, coached by Joe Bryant, were also sluggish off the blocks and a low scoring opening period ended with the Slingers up 10-8.
In the second quarter, the Slammers tried to get more aggressive on the offensive end but they failed to take care of the ball properly and it cost them dearly as the Slingers quickly built a 12 point lead midway through the period.
Wacharapong Tongsri was at fault for three of the Slammers six turnovers in the half alone while the Slingers were beginning to play some inspired basketball through their point guard Donald Dulay.
The Filipino-American set up Santiago Cabatu for a triple to push the lead to 21-14 before stealing the ball for an easy lay-up to make it a nine point lead for the home team.
Dulay would be involved again as the Slingers went up by double digits when he assisted for Desmond Oh to knock down another three with five minutes left in the quarter. The home team certainly enjoyed themselves from the behind the arc where they shot 44% (4/9) in the first half.
The Singapore outfit also scored 16 points in the paint after the first two quarters which was double the amount the Slammers managed and it was the visitors who trudged off the court at half-time down 35-23.
However, whatever Slammers coach Bryant said at half-time, it seemed to work as they came out fired up with consecutive buckets from Howard first and then a nice reverse move under the hoop by Michael Earl to cut the lead to 35-27.
Earl scored 10 points and grabbed 9 rebounds in Sunday's game.
There was a marked improvement from the Slammers on defense in the third quarter and when their point-guard Froilan Baguion orchestrated a smooth transition deuce for Chanachon Klahan the Slingers were suddenly only up by five points with less than two minutes to go in the third quarter.
Baguion then scored from an offensive rebound to whittle the lead down further to just three points.
"Defensively we were good but offensively we didn't have our rhythm," Howard told FOX Sports.
"We can hang our hat on our defence [tonight]."
The Slingers were at this point in danger of letting the game slip through their hands but their rookie Mitchell Folkoff showed real character on the very next play to drain a vital three pointer off an assist from Damien Goh.
Folkoff, who had looked nervous for most of his first start for the Slingers, suddenly came into his own. He started the fourth quarter with a nice turnaround jumper to make it 45-37 for the home team.
And the Slingers turned to the Singaporean again as his made another two point shot to keep his team ahead by six points just as the Thais were threatening to swing the momentum back in their favour once again.
"He started off a bit nervous but he hit some big shots and helped us win the game," Slingers coach Neo Beng Siang said.
"He's aggressive on defence and [on offense] he attacks the rim which is what we want to see more of from our local players."
Slingers' Wong Wei Long hit a pair of free-throws at the end to close out the 56-50 victory over the Slammers who face off against the Saigon Heat on Wednesday.
JobStreet.com Slingers: Jennings - 11, Wong - 10, Jeffers - 10, Dulay - 8, Folkoff - 7, Cabatu - 7, Oh - 3.
Chang Thailand Slammers: Howard - 13, Earl - 10, Dawson - 8, Baguion - 7, Kongkum - 6, Klahan - 4, Apiromvilaichai - 2.