It was sweet revenge for the Westports Malaysia Dragons as they scored their biggest victory of the season by defeating the Chang Thailand Slammers 83-66 at home on Saturday. The Dragons lost to the Slammers in the lead up to Chinese New Year.
With a healthier squad, it was a much more balanced attack from the Dragons this week as they were again led by new recruit Sammy Monroe. Monroe finished the game with 32 points, 8 rebounds. 4 steals, 2 assists and 2 blocks and was backed by a double-double from Moala Tautuaa (10 points, 12 rebounds) and Gavin Edwards (12 points, 5 rebounds, 4 blocks).
“I just play to win” said Monroe after the game, “As long as I’m on this team I want to win.”
The Dragons have been seen as not playing with enough energy and hustle during the season, losing out on 50/50 balls and often being on the wrong side of lopsided rebound counts, but head Coach Ariel Vanguardia can see that things are beginning to change. “I can see now that we are starting to have the urgency to get the rebounds.”
Referring to Charles’ last game he said “I’ve been challenging them, they can’t let someone get 27 rebounds, especially not when we are at home”
It was all one way traffic in the first half as the Dragons shot 51 percent from the field and shut down Slammers stars Froilan Baguion and Chris Charles. Shee Fai Loh capped off 9 straight Dragons points with a three and a fast break to be up 9-2. Monroe followed with back to back threes and a three point play as the home side led by 9 at quarter time.
While the front court trio of Tautuaa, Edwards and Li Wei Chee did the job of keeping Charles out of the paint, the guards controlled Baguoin and continued to push the pace of the Dragons offense. Leading the league in assists, Baguion went into halftime with zero assists and five of his team’s 15 turnovers, while Charles had 5 rebounds and just 2 points.
Tian Yuan Kuek entered the game in the second quarter and connected on a three with his first touch of the ball. Monroe kept up his hot shooting in the second and finished the half with 19 points, hitting 7 of his 11 shots, including 4 from downtown, as the Dragons went to the main break with a 48-29 advantage.
After being kept out of the paint in the first half, the Slammers made their intentions clear at the beginning of the second by going straight into Charles down low. The pace of the game slowed right down and the Dragons were forced to grind out their points, often finding themselves still with the ball late in the shot clock. The Slammers pulled back to within 11 after Edwards picked up his fourth foul, but that would be as close as they got as they refused to be bullied in the paint and continued to answer back when the Slammers scored.
After the game Tautuaa commented on the physicality of the game. “We were told to go hard. Coach tested us and we responded. Instead of getting punched, we were the ones throwing the punches.”
Tatuaa combined with Monroe late in the game for a spectacular alley-oop pass after a Monroe steal to put the game out of reach for the Slammers.
The Dragons will now fly to Manila to take on the San Miguel Beermen on Saturday 2nd March, 4pm local time.
Scorers for the Dragons: S. Monroe (32), G. Edwards (12), M. Tautuaa (10), T. Y. Kuek (9), S.F. Loh (7), J. Melton (5), P. Cabahug (4), L. W. Chee (2) and S. Kuppusamy (2)
Scorers for the Slammers: M. Earl (14), C. Charles (11), F. Baguion (9), Fernandez (8), K. Lertlaoku (6), W. Dasom (5), D. Kongkum (4), W. Tongsri (3), S. Ghogar (3), P. Sekteera (2) and K. Wanna (1)
Scores by quarters:
|Westports Malaysia Dragons||22||26||12||23||83|
|Chang Thailand Slammers||13||16||18||19||66|
Current league standings:
|2||Jobstreet.com Singapore Slingers||7||4-3||57||-6|
|3||Westports Malaysia Dragons||8||4-4||50||20|
|4||San Miguel Beermen||6||3-3||50||30|
|6||Chang Thailand Slammers||8||2-6||25||-38