ABL: Warriors made to work for Slammers win

The Indonesia Warriors had to dig deep for a 74-83 win over the Sports Rev Thailand Slammers to consolidate their status at the top of the ASEAN Basketball League.

Slammers vs Warriors: John Smith, Darrius Brannon

The Slammers were up for a stern test going up against the ABL leaders without star man Christien Charles, who was handed a one-game suspension after his heated exchange with the Saigon Heat's David Palmer last week.

Mario Wuysang continued his hot streak against the Slammers by firing in 23 points to top the game's scoring chart as the Warriors racked up yet another win in their quest to end the regular season on top of the ABL, but the Slammers put up a strong late rally to make sure that Todd Purves' men had to sweat it out for the win.

The Warriors started the game strongly and seemed like they were going to blow the Slammers out for a win after a lopsided first quarter which ended 26-15.

It was obvious that the lack of height from the Thai side below the basket was their weak point as the Warriors found it easy to get into the paint on the attack via Steven Thomas' post-up game. In the first 10 minutes itself, the Warriors had more offensive rebounds (6) than defensive (2) ones - an odd statistic which told of their dominant height.

In contrast, Joe Bryant's side looked clueless in offensive without the free-scoring Charles to spearhead their attack and allowed the Warriors an 8-0 lead three minutes into the game. 

It wasn't until Froilan Baguion stepped up with two successive jumpers from outside that they gave any signs of life, but both Wuysang and John Smith replied with 3-pointers of their own to open up an 11-point lead at the end of the quarter.

The Slammer's disastrous start continued after the first interval as their first chance to hit the Warriors on the break went to shambles when Kannut Samerjai missed a basic pass to an open Baguion. The situation was then exacerbated shortly when Wuysang decided to outdo Baguion from beyond the line by sinking three 3-pointers to oopen up a 37-17 lead midway through the second quarter.

It was only when Thomas was rested that the Slammers' attack began to flow.

Again, it was star point guard Baguion who stepped up to orchestrate the comeback as he chipped in with three steals, four assists and seven points in the quarter. The veteran's assuring performance encouraged the others on the court as well as they hit 47% from the field and forced eight turnovers on the Warriors.

Fittingly, Baguion ended the quarter by earning three free throws and converting all three of them to cut the gap to just four points at 39-43 going into the halftime break.

The Slammers' excellent run was halted minutes into the third quarter when center Darrius Brannon commited his fourth foul of the game and was benched to avoid foul trouble. The Warriors quickly took advantage of their opponent's lack of height and opened up the lead by attacking the basket, scoring 16 of their 23 points in the quarter from the paint.

The scoreboard read 66-47 in favour to the visiting side going into the final quarter, but the 19-point difference seemed to only fire up the Slammers, who turned up the pace of the game by several notches as the local players stepped up to the plate.

They began to make runs into the key and drew 11 of their 21 free throws in the final quarter to go 10 points behind with four minutes left on the clock.

The Warriors kept the gap at two digits but they ended the game on a nervous note when Baguion sunk his third 3-pointer of the night with a minute left on the clock to cut the lead to seven points, which was when coach Bryant called a time-out to implement a full court press in an attempt to close out the game.

Despite the enthusiastic crowd egging them on, the Slammers failed to make their final push count as Jerick Canada and Wuysang both showed nerves of steel to sink five of the six free throws between them to see out the 83-74 win for the Warriors.

The loss means that the Jobstreet.com Singapore Slingers, who play the San Miguel Beermen on Sunday, are within one win of pulling level with the Slammers in the fight for the fourth and final playoff spot in the ABL.

Meanwhile, the Warriors will next travel to play the Westports Malaysian Dragons at the MABA Stadium on Friday.

Quarter scoring: Q1(15-26) Q2(24-17) Q3(8-23) Q4(27-17)

Full-Time: Slammers 74-83 Warriors

Slammers: Baguion - 17pts, 7 ast; Brannon - 12pts; Samerjai - 11pts; Ghogar - 10pts.

Warriors: Wuysang - 23pts; Thomas - 13pts, 15rebs; Daniels - 11pts, 10rebs.

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