Xavier Alexander played the role of hero for Singapore as the Slingers were able to secure a seat in the ABL playoffs with a rousing 71-68 victory against the BTN CLS Knights Indonesia, Wednesday night at the GOR Kertajaya in Surabaya, Indonesia.
Alexander delivered in the clutch, scoring nine of the last 11 points for the Slingers, including seven points in the final two and a half minutes of action.
“Down the stretch, I just felt it was my time to take over,” Alexander said about his late game heroics. “That’s what I do, that’s what I want to do for my team and that’s who I want to be.”
The four-year veteran buried a gutsy 3-pointer to tie the game at 65 apiece just as the Knights were gaining momentum. He then followed it up with a daring left-handed layup amidst tight defense in the paint. He put the cherry on top of his personal scoring spree with a tough fallaway jumper over the outstretched arms of Daryl Watkins to give his team a three-point lead with 27 seconds remaining. The Knights got into the penalty way too late and a great inbounds play by the Slingers got the ball to a wide-open Larry Liew with less than a second left. Liew iced the game with a pair of free throws.
Alexander earned Player of the Game honors with 23 points, six rebounds, and eight assists. John Fields was also a force for Singapore, collecting 25 points and 18 rebounds before fouling out. Jerran Young failed to reach double-figures for the first time this season to finish with just seven points but provided five boards and four steals.
For Indonesia, four players reached double-digits with Brandon Jawato top-scoring with 18 points. Maxie Esho, the Knights’ most consistent scorer, had a relatively quiet night of only 16 points and eight rebounds while Douglas Herring had 15 points on a woeful 4-for-16 shooting clip. Darryl Watkins added a double-double of 14 and 11 but what hurt the Knights was Wong Wei Long’s forgettable 1-point outing. With the loss, Indonesia now has an 11-11 record.
The Slingers dragged the Knights into a slow, grind-it-out defensive game. The 3-point shot has been the primary weapon for the Knights on their home floor but they only shot 6-for-21 from deep. A telling stat also was Singapore’s 45-34 edge on the glass.
The Slingers improve to 13-7 for the season and have become the third team to clinch a playoff berth alongside San Miguel Alab Pilipinas and Formosa Dreamers.
Still, Alexander and his team are far from satisfied.
“It’s not over. Some people are happy with clinching,” he said. “I’ve clinched four times, I haven’t got a championship yet. So that’s what’s on my mind and hopefully, that’s on my team’s mind as well.”