Is it possible to have a quiet game when
you finish with 29 points and 27 rebounds? Because that appears to have happened to Chris Charles, who led the
Chang Thailand Slammers to a 77-65 road win over the Westports Malaysia Dragons
on Saturday in KL.
To repeat, Charles had 29 points and 27
rebounds. That’s an astonishing scoreline. The ABL is in its 4th season and its
only happened once before – Nakiea Miller pulled off a 31-28 with the Dragons in 2010. A double-20 is rare at any level of
basketball, even the NBA, where games are eight minutes longer.
But it was the way Charles did it that made
it more remarkable. There wasn’t a lot
of power moves or thunderous dunks. Instead, the majority of Charles’ shots at MABA Stadium came off his
offensive rebounding, with simple putbacks either off the glass or straight at
the rim. Charles can also hit the
mid-range jumper, and knocked down a bunch of those. In other words, nothing fancy, just
fundamental basketball, with Charles cleaning up the misses of his teammates,
and making the most of 2nd chance opportunities.
And consider that Charles wasn’t even on the Slammers roster to
begin the season. He was only brought in
because starting centre Justin Howard (who at this point has to be really
really nervous) went down with an injury. Charles, in 3 games, is averaging 22 points and 18 rebounds, and is one
of the best bigs in the league.
I watched the game on the ABL livestream
and remember thinking “Charles is having a nice game” and nothing more. I didn’t keep an eye on the live boxscore so
it was only with a few minutes left in the game, when I was scrolling through my
texts when I saw “Charles has a shot at 30-30 game". WHATTT??? Sure enough, the Villanova man was sitting on 25 points and 25 rebounds
with 3 minutes to play.
Charles’ was also aided by the fact that no
one on the Dragons could defend him. In
fact, the Slammers posed two matchup problems for the Dragons. First, the center position for the Dragons is
occupied by Edwards, who is really a power forward. He has trouble guarding a big man who posts
up. Second, the Dragons play without a
true point guard, and use natural shooting guards to bring the ball up. That allows a traditional ‘1’ like Froilan
Baguion toroam freely and use dribble penetration to get shots for his
teammates. Charles and Baguion wrecked
havoc and are the chief reasons the Dragons dropped their third straight.
The Charles-Baguion combination, along with
growing confidence amongst the local Thai players, has the Slammers on the rise. We won’t see a 20-20 from Charles every
night, but his mobility and length give Thailand a chance in every game.
The San Miguel Beermen, unlike the Dragons,
have the bodies to defend a big man. And
that’s exactly what they did against the Saigon Heat on Friday night in Manila,
getting Heat centre David Palmer in early foul trouble, forcing Coach Jason
Rabedeaux to sit Palmer down in the first half. From there, Brian Williams, Gabe Freeman and Asi Taulava went to work in
the lane, and the Heat were powerless. San Miguel won a laugher, with one statistic telling the tale. The Beermen outscored the Heat 44-18 in the paint.
The problem for Saigon is their bench is
thin, whereas you San Miguel arguably go nine deep on their roster. If one of Saigon’s starters gets in early
foul trouble, it is an uphill battle for the Heat to stay competitive. San
Miguel, by contrast, can weather that kind of storm.
This game represented payback for San
Miguel, after they lost a tense game last weekend to the Heat in Saigon. That game could of gone either way, but at
Ynares Sports Arena, there was no doubt who was the better team.
The Week Ahead
Jobstreet.com Singapore Slingers vs Westports Malaysia Dragons, Tue Feb 5th
it still being early in the season, this game has a whiff of desperation about
it, for both clubs. The Slingers have
dropped 2 straight and their offense has been lethargic and predictable. Coach Neo Beng Siang said as much after their
listless loss to the Indonesia Warriors last Tuesday. The Slingers are averaging just 58 points
over their first three games. That can’t
The Dragons have seasawed from winning 2 straight to start the season to dropping 3 in a row, including 2 games at home. Cedric Bozeman (11 pts, 5 of 18 from the floor in the loss to the Slammers) seems to have lost his stroke. And what happened to that budding Malaysian talent? The local players combined for just 12 points in the loss to Thailand.
(8:00 PM HKT, Live on Super Sports Arena in
Singapore and the ABL Livestream)
San Miguel Beermen vs Indonesia Warriors, Fri Feb 8th
The Warriors have had this game circled on
their calendar since they lost to San Miguel on the ABL’s opening night. Anyone who watched this game knows these two
clubs aren’t exchanging love letters. The Beermen believe they are the best team in the league and intend to
prove it by beating the league champs twice in a row. Point guard Chris Banchero is having a stellar
season (13 ppg, 52% FG, 5.0 apg. 2.3 spg) and will again try to use his speed
to up the tempo and get easy shots for Williams and Freeman.
Indonesia will enter the game riding a 3-game winning streak, attributable to playing lockdown team defense. John Smith, who is pinch-hitting for the injured Stanley Pringle, has emerged as steady ballhandler and has proven deft in running the Warriors offense.
(5:00 PM HKT, Live on Fox Sports Philippines and the ABL Livestream, delayed on Fox Sports Asia at 8:00 PM HKT)
Chang Thailand Slammers vs San Miguel Beermen, Wed Feb 13th
A battle of the South East Asian lagers! The loser has to drink the winners' beer. Just kidding. A great test for the Slammers’ Chris Charles as he matches up with Brian Williams. Froilan Baguion was on the Beermen’s roster last season and would love to get one over on his former teammates.
(8:00 PM HKT via the ABL Livestream)