The Kuala Lumpur Dragons notched a Valentine’s Day victory over rivals Singapore Slingers in the first leg of the annual Straits Cup in the ASEAN Basketball League.
The Dragons entered the contest at the OCBC Arena suffering through 10 straight losses to the Slingers. However, the Malaysia-based squad very quickly served notice that things would be different in the new decade, as their choking defense completely stymied the Slingers throughout the contest.
Singapore was held to only 23 points in the entire first half, and more notably only six points in the second quarter. The Dragons’ defense limited the Slingers to 10/42 shooting from the field, good for only 23.8%. That allowed Malaysia to take a 38-23 lead at the end of the first half.
There was no mercy at the hands of the Dragons, as their lead ballooned even further in the second half. The Dragons outscored the Slingers 22-17 in the third period, and grabbed a lead of 24 points after a triple from World Import Cade Davis at the 7:24 mark of the fourth quarter,
The Slingers did try to make the final score more respectable, as they were able to trim the large deficit further in the remaining time in the ballgame. But the evening simply belonged to the visiting squad, as they were able to care of business and win back to back games.
Leading the way for the Dragons was Will Artino, as he finished with a game-high 32 points and 16 rebounds, while also swatting away 4 blocks in the contest. Cade Davis was also a big factor, and he also shook off a tough evening from beyond the arc to end up with 17 points and 6 rebounds in the win.
Amir Bell filled the stat sheet as well, with 11 points, 6 rebounds and 7 assists. The Dragons also got important contributions from Tin Chun Hong and Loh Shee Fai, as the two went a combined 4 for 7 from beyond the arc, for six points apiece.
The Slingers’ World Import Marcus Elliott paced the squad with 21 points, 5 rebounds, and 3 assists, while Xavier Alexander and Anthony McClain had 12 points each in the loss. Leon Kwek was the missing Slinger in the contest, as he was only able to tally 6 points, a game after scoring his career-high of 26 in the win against the Taipei Fubon Braves.
Singapore’s three-point shooting deserted them against the Dragons, as they went 3 of 11 from beyond the arc compared to 8 of 22 for the Dragons. Malaysia also dominated in the assists category 18-10, as well as fastbreak points, 20-8.
The Slingers still have a chance to win the Straits Cup if they can defeat the Dragons by at least 12 points in their rematch on Sunday at the MABA Stadium. But for now, the Dragons will savor not only ending their losing skid versus the Slingers but also for leapfrogging them in the standings at 7-6 compared to the Slingers’ 6-7 record.