ABL: Brilliant Baguion tames Dragons

A virtuoso display from Chang Thailand Slammers point guard Froilan Baguion slayed the Westports Malaysia Dragons 77-65 on Saturday.

Froilan Baguion
Marcus Chhan

By Marcus Chhan

The Filipino scored 26 points - including four three pointers - and chipped in with seven assists and eight rebounds to hand Dragons coach Ariel Vanguardia a third straight loss in the ASEAN Basketball League (ABL).

The Slammers were also boosted by another commanding performance from new signing Chris Charles who had 29 points and 27 rebounds while Dragons star import Cedric Bozeman struggled with 11 points from 5/18 shooting.

Before Saturday's clash, Vanguardia had spoken openly about trying to stop Slammers guard Baguion from controlling the game. The Filipino headed into the contest as the ABL's leading assist maker with 11.75 per game - and at least in the first quarter things went according to plan.

Baguion and his Slammers team were woeful from the start and quickly fell behind 5-0 thanks to an opening three from Malaysia captain Guga as well as a dunk from defensive hard man Gavin Edwards (13 points, 6 rebounds).

In fact, the home side ended the first period in complete control with an 18-8 lead as the Slammers could not break out of their early shooting slump and finished with incredibly only one made field goal.

Baguion did not have a single assist at this stage as his team-mates simply failed to connect on good looks at the basket.

It was a completely different story in the second quarter, though.

Baguion started a Slammers run by grabbing his own miss and putting up a nice one-handed floater in the lane for two-points. Then the Slammers guard hit a triple at the top of the arc to cut the Dragons' lead to a single point with over seven minutes still remaining in the period.

After a missed shot from Edwards, the Slammers went up the other end of the floor to take the lead 22-20 from a Wutipong Dawsom three.

And when Baguion's pass set up Charles for an easy dunk with four minutes left before half-time the Slammers were in full flight and headed into the break having outscored their opponents by a massive 17 points in the second quarter.

"Well I just told them we were playing well and to keep doing what we were doing on the defensive end and we'll start making some shots," Slammers coach Joe Bryant explained during a TV interview at half-time.

Trailing the Slammers 35-28 at the break, the Dragons came out of the dressing room fired up and immediately went to work at chipping away the visitors' lead.

First, Mark Jeffries managed to get a circus style lay-up to fall and then later Bozeman got the MABA Stadium crowd rocking in Malaysia with a ferocious one-handed dunk to make it a three point game less than three minutes into the third.

At this point the game was nicely poised with both teams set to trade blows.

Baguion hit a deep three pointer with the shot clock winding down after picking up the loose ball from Dawsom's blocked shot.

However, the Dragons' Patrick Cabahug (14 points) responded with a three of his own plus the foul. He would sink the free-throw and it was a one-point game with more than half the period still to be played.

There were some great moments for the Dragons in the third, most notably when Moala Tautuaa powered the ball into the rim with two hands following Cabahug's missed two, and the fourth quarter sounded with the Slammers holding only a five point lead at 52-47.

Unfortunately for the Malaysians, that was as close as they would get from then on.

Baguion would get lucky with a three point shot which hit the rim and bounced straight up before falling in to make it 66-55 late on. And as the frustration grew for the Dragons, Cabahug would get tagged with a technical foul after appearing to elbow Chanachon Klahan at midcourt as the Thai player set a screen for Baguion.

The Slammers would wrap up the game in fitting fashion - Charles scoring off another offensive rebound before Baguion knocked down two free-throws to seal the 77-65 win.

"Charles did a good job rebounding," Bryant said in his post-match interview.

"He should have got 30 rebounds but he got 27. I am challenging him to get 30 next time!"

Both teams shot the ball poorly at under 40% from the field but the Thais outrebounded the Malaysians 54-35 which is a stat that will not please Dragons coach Vanguardiaand his coaching staff one bit.

The Slammers improve to 2-3 while a third straight defeat leaves the Dragons with an identical win-loss record in the ABL 2013 season.

Quarter scoring: Q1(18-8) Q2(10-27) Q3(19-17) Q4(18-25)
Full-Time: Dragons 65-77 Slammers

Dragons: Cabahug - 14pts, Bozeman - 11pts, 11 rebs.

Slammers: Charles - 29 pts, 27 rebs, Baguion - 23pts, 8 rebs, 7 assists.

ABL: Fixtures, Standings and Results.



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