ABL: Slingers power past Heat

Rashad Jones-Jennings had 24 points and 23 rebounds as the Jobstreet.com Singapore Slingers beat the Saigon Heat 80-69 on Sunday.

Rashad Jones-Jennings, Singapore Slingers
Marcus Chhan

By Marcus Chhan

The Heat were without top scorer Dior Lowhorn because of a hamstring injury and went down by as much 19 points in the third quarter but rallied through the brilliance of Jai Reyes (22 points) while David Palmer chipped in with 20 points and 16 rebounds.

Singaporean guard Wong Wei Long also starred for the Slingers with a sharp-shooting display to bag 20 points.

Both teams now sit at 3-3 in the ASEAN Basketball League (ABL) standings following Sunday's result at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.

Jones-Jennings came into the contest after putting up his best numbers (19 points, 14 rebounds) of the 2013 ABL season so far in a defeat to the Indonesia Warriors, and he wasted no time in getting the home side off the mark with a bank-shot to open the contest against the Heat.

Slingers favourite Kyle Jeffers, who struggled with 4 of 16 shooting against the Warriors earlier in the week, showed no signs of low-confidence as he poured in eight points in the quarter for the Slingers to take control very early.

However, Reyes pulled up and nailed a three on his way to nine first quarter points which helped leave the two teams deadlocked at 16-16 heading into the second period.

But the Slingers came out firing in the second quarter with Desmond Oh nailing a shot from beyond the arc after the restart.

Reyes was temporarily forced out of the game less than two minutes into the quarter with a dislocated finger but he would return a few minutes later.

And when he did return, it was a whole different ball game.

A vicious block from Jeffers on Phillip Morrison led to an easy basket in transition for Oh before the American capped off a 9-0 run with a monster two handed dunk to make it 26-18.

Palmer did his best to respond for Saigon with a triple but the Slingers where shooting the ball too well at this point to let their lead slip. The red-hot Wong drained three triples in the quarter alone to guide the Singapore outfit to a 44-32 half-time lead.

Before the game Heat coach Jason Rabedeaux had opted not to risk key man Lowhorn as the 6'7'' forward was still suffering from a tight hamstring. As a result, the Heat more often than not deployed a zonal marking system to help keep their only other ‘big' Palmer out of foul trouble.

Slingers guard Wong certainly enjoyed the extra space on the perimeter as he continued to punish the visitors from three point range even in the third quarter.

"We let Wei Long get loose a little bit," Rabedeaux told FOX Sports after the game.

He added: "We knew he could shoot and we have got to give him credit because he made the shots, but I thought our zone at times was effective. The biggest thing I wanted to play was to keep Palmer out of foul trouble."

Wong finished with an impressive 20 points and when he was not scoring he was doing other things like stealing the ball and dishing to Jones-Jennings for an easy bucket on the break as the Heat found themselves down by 19 points midway through the period.

The Heat never let their heads drop, though, and started to work their way back into the contest.

Ben Wisniewski, in for the injured Lowhorn, had a decent debut with 11 points and managed to get Jeffers in the air with a pump fake on the baseline before drawing heavy contact from the Slinger. The officials deemed the offence as an intentional and technical foul which allowed Wisniewski to drain both free-throws from the charity stripe while Karl Dehesa added two more points for the Heat with a pull up jump shot on the next play.

Into the fourth quarter and the Slingers led 64-49 but the advantage was cut to just 10 points within the first five minutes after consecutive three pointers from Reyes and then Larry Tieu (12 points).

The Heat were beginning to get more and more defensive stops and so when Morrison and Palmer combined for an alley-oop lay-up and then Reyes added another three, the game was suddenly a tight affair with the score 71-67 to the Slingers.

"We started pretty well, taking advantage of the first two quarters with our size," Slingers coach Neo Beng Siang said.

"But we can't let teams come back and take us down."

Fortunately for the home support, the Slingers didn't let the Heat complete the comeback by scoring nine more points to see out the 80-69 victory.

"At times we competed and played hard," Rabedeaux said.

"We knew we were undermanned tonight without Dior [Lowhorn]. We don't have a lot of size as it is so we had to play way more zonal than I like to play to keep David [Palmer] out of foul trouble.

"Obviously when we went back man-to-man in the second half we were able to make a little bit of a run at them but give Singapore credit, their backs were against the wall, they needed a win and I am proud of our guys because they played hard."

Lowhorn will be available for selection when the two teams play the reverse fixture of this game in just five days' time at Tan Binh Stadium on Friday the 22nd of February.

Quarter scoring: Q1(16-16) Q2(28-16) Q3(20-17) Q4(16-20) 

Full-Time: Slingers 80-69 Heat

Slingers: Jones-Jennings - 24pts, Wong - 20pts, Jeffers - 16pts, Cabatu - 7pts.

Heat: Reyes - 22pts, Palmer - 20pts, Tieu - 12pts, Wisnieski - 11pts.

ABL: Fixtures, Standings and Results.

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