The Nanhai Kung Fu Basketball Club could not have asked for a better start to their maiden stint in the ASEAN Basketball League as they led from buzzer to buzzer en route to a dominant 83-59 victory over the Singapore Slinger, Friday night in the opening day of the league’s eighth season.
Led by the sweet shooting Anthony Tucker and the dominant Justin Howard, Nanhai put the pressure on the Slingers from the jump as they quickly took 13-2 lead capped by a Tucker three.
The home team was daring the Singaporeans to beat them from the outside and this ploy worked as the Slingers converted on only 2 of 8 three-point shots while Nanhai made 10 of their 28 attempts.
Singapore finally came alive at the start of the third quarter as they slowly chipped away at the Chinese team’s lead. They got to within 6, 40-34, after a dunk from Ryan Wright but Tucker provided a certain sense of calmness for the young squad as they took a 54-43 lead heading into the final quarter.
The dam finally broke for Nanhai midway through the final canto as they unleashed a deadly 15-0 blast to build a comfortable 74-49 lead with only 3:29 remaining in the game to guarantee that they’ll defend their homecourt on their first try.
Tucker had an ultra-efficient game in his ABL debut with 31 points in just 16 shots. Tucker’s 31 points ties Chris Kuete and Chris Eversley as the most scored on opening day in the ASEAN Basketball League. The sweet-shooting import made 7 of 10 threes while also adding 10 rebounds. Howard also made a statement against his former team with a big double-double of 15 points and 14 rebounds, showing why he’s the reigning Defensive Player of the Year.
Filipino-American Heritage import Caelan Tiongson also gave a good account of himself with 11 points, 8 rebounds, and 5 assists.
Singapore’s new big man import Wright had a decent debut with the squad as he finished with 26 points and 11 rebounds while Xavier Alexander had 14 points on 5 of 16 shooting from the field. Russel Low was the third leading scorer for the Slingers with 8 points. The big problem for them was the absence of a reliable shooter. Without Wong Wei Long in the lineup and with Wu Qingde and Leon Kwek not being available for this game, Nanhai simply packed the paint, making it difficult for the Slingers to score through slashing and posting up.
Xavier Alexander surpassed 1,000 career points in the ABL in this game, being the 8th player in ABL history to do. He was also able to reach the milestone after playing in 53 games, making him the 3rd fastest player to get this achievement.