ABL: Slammers douse Heat to halt skid

The Chang Thailand Slammers ended their three-game losing streak with a 76-58 victory over the Saigon Heat, who extended their own run of losses to four games.

Wutipong Dasom

Dior Lowhorn continued his red-hot scoring form to pour in an incredible 34 points for the Heat in the clash between the two bottom sides in the ASEAN Basketball League (ABL) but it could not prevent the Slammers from claiming a well-deserved win over the Heat after an all-round team effort.

Christien Charles led the scoring chart for the Slammers with 22 points, 17 rebounds and four blocks while guards Froilan Baguion and Wutipong Dasom contributed 16 points each to fire Joe Bryant's side to victory.

The Heat were missing their center David Palmer through injury and the lack of height below the basket was a major factor as the Heat allowed the Slammers to charge to a 13-0 lead without reply in the first quarter. 

Charles was the catalyst for the Thai side's excellent start without having to deal with the Heat's first-choice center. He began the game by dunking for his first basket of the night before proceeding to land eight of their 13 points - all while performing an admirable defensive job to suppress Lowhorn from making an impact early on.

It was not until coach Jason Rabedeaux called a time out in the fifth minute that the Heat managed to overcome their stupor with the spectacular Lowhorn leading the charge, netting 16 points as the home side fought back to end the first quarter trailing by a mere 21-18 scoreline.

The Heat kept their chase in the second quarter and managed to keep within one possession of the game for most of the period with Charles missing for the Slammers as he was taken off for a break. 

However, the parity between the two sides did not last as Baguion stepped up and dragged the lead to seven points by landing three of four baskets from beyond the arc in the quarter. It was only due to Lowhorn's massive effort under the basket that restricted the Slammers to a single-digit 40-32 lead entering the half time break.

The Slammers continued to assert their authority in the third quarter with Baguion's ability to dictate the game and Dasom's strong drives into the basket only added to the Heat's woes as the guard grabbed nine points in a slow-paced quarter. 

The Slammers' solid defence in the key was a major factor in restricting Lowhorn to only three points; they forced the Heat to go for the shot from beyond the arc, where they went one for nine outside with Lowhorn the only one who managed to find the basket.

Lowhorn was visibly tired by the final quarter, much to the delight of Charles, who has been rested for extended periods throughout the game. The momentum was firmly in the Slammers' favour as Charles went on to dominate the paint with 14 points and 11 rebounds in the final quarter to seal up the game in an easy 76-58 win.

The Slammers have a tough test up next as when they travel to face leaders Indonesian Warriors  on 6 March, but coach Bryant insists that his side should revel in the win.

"We will just take this win and enjoy it. We will worry about tomorrow tomorrow." he said at the end of the game. "The fans here are great and they are the best in ABL, so for us to stay focused and come out an 18-point lead away from here is great. I'm happy with it."

Meanwhile, the Saigon Heat will have a week's break and travel to face the Slammers at the Nimibutr Stadium in Thailand on 9 March.

Quarter scoring: Q1(18-21) Q2(14-19) Q3(13-16) Q4(13-20) 

Full-Time: Heat 58- 76 Slammers

Slammers: Charles - 22pts, 17reb, 4blk; Baguion - 16pts, 12 ast; Dasom - 16pts.

Dragons:  Lowhorn - 34pts; Morrison 7pts; Tieu - 6 pts.

ABL: Fixtures, Standings and Results.

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