ABL: Beermen put away Slammers

The San Miguel Beermen bounced back from a tough overtime loss to the Indonesia Warriors to beat the Chang Thailand Slammers 77-73 on Wednesday.

Gabe Freeman
Marcus Chhan

By Marcus Chhan

Leo Austria's men lost by a single bucket to the Warriors at home last Friday in the ASEAN Basketball League (ABL), but Chris Banchero and Gabe Freeman combined for 46 points to lead the Beermen to victory in Thailand tonight.

Banchero led all scorers with 26 points while Freeman had 20 points to go along with his 13 rebounds at Nimibutr Stadium.

A poor third quarter for the Thais, where they only scored 13 points, would ultimately prove too costly for Joe Bryant's team.

Both teams did not shoot the ball sharply at under 40% from the field but the Beermen dominated with 18 more points in the paint while the Slammers did not register any second chance points compared to 16 points for the visitors.

In the opening minutes, it was the Slammers which looked the stronger as they went on a 6-0 run to kick things off. Darongpan Apiromvilaichai, Michael Earl and Chris Charles were the beneficiaries from some incisive passing from Froilan Baguion, who finished the game with 15 assists.

A pin-point Baguion lob pass then found Charles for an easy lay-up with less than three minutes to go in the period with the scores 15-11 to the home team.

An already solid looking quarter for the Slammers ended in style with five quick points in about 10 seconds after Earl's short jumper from the baseline was followed by a steal from Baguion - he had four in the game - from the resulting inbounds pass and the Filipino then converted from beyond the arc.

Trailing 20-17 at the start of the second quarter, the Beermen began to look for better options in transition which at one point even led to their big man Brian Williams (11 rebounds, six assists) charging down the court with the ball before dishing it to Eric Menk for an easy two points to tie the game up at 24-apiece.

Meanwhile the Slammers were also having problems trying to contain Freeman whose nine points in the quarter was punctuated by an athletic tip-in from his own missed shot.

But the Slammers managed to hang on to their three point first quarter lead to start the third period 39-36 in front.

A horror third quarter from Bryant's boys would completely alter the complexion of the contest.

Banchero was the catalyst for the change. The 23-year-old Filipino-Italian sparked a 14-0 run for the Beermen with a clever high arching lay-up in transition over the outstretched arms of the ABL's current block leader Charles before the ball kissed off the glass and went in.

Williams then found Leo Avenido (eight points) with an American football style pass for two more Beermen points from the fast-break and when Freeman dunked the ball with 5:32 of the quarter remaining the visitors went up 50-39.

The Slammers finally ended a scoring drought of more than five minutes through a reverse lay-up from Wutipong Dawsom and that same player would score again - this time with a three point play - after a vicious block from Charles (one of an incredible nine he dished out during the game) sent the ball up court, allowing him to make the lay-up plus the foul.

The Slammers only scored eight more points in the quarter and trailed the Beermen 56-52 at the start of the fourth.

It was a much more evenly fought affair in the final period, though, with both teams showing plenty of grit and determination to win. And although the Beermen never looked like losing the contest at this stage, there were some nervy moments especially following Jay Fernandez's three pointer making it a two point game with 4:33 remaining.

Despite the best efforts of Slammers - including two more baskets from distance - the Beermen eventually closed out the 77-73 victory from the free-throw line as well as from the hot shooting hand of Banchero, who scored the last 14 points for the visitors.

The Beermen improved to 3-2 with Wednesday's win while defeat drops the Slammers to 2-4.

Quarter scoring: Q1(20-17) Q2(19-19) Q3(13-20) Q4(21-21) 

Full-Time: Slammers 73-77 Beermen

Slammers: Earl - 16 pts; Fernandez - 13 pts; Charles 12pts, 13reb, 9blk; Baguion - 7pts, 15ast, 4stl.

Beermen: Banchero - 26pts; Freeman - 20pts, 13reb; Taulava - 11pts; Brian Williams - 11reb, 6ast.

ABL: Fixtures, Standings and Results.

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