It’s a Straits Cup Showdown this weekend in the ASEAN Basketball League, as the Kuala Lumpur Dragons and Singapore Slingers renew their friendly rivalry with a pair of games beginning this Friday at the OCBC Arena in Singapore.
The battle begins at 8 PM GMT +8.
Though the rivalry has been on since 2016, the Slingers have dominated the Straits Cup. In fact, Singapore has won the last 10 games versus Malaysia. However the Dragons still have an ace up their sleeve- the last game that Malaysia won versus Singapore happened to be Game 5 of the 2016 ABL Finals, where Malaysia was able to celebrate a championship.
Both teams are fresh from wins, coincidentally against the Taipei Fubon Braves. The Dragons walloped the Braves by 32 points in their Wednesday matchup, as their perimeter shooting was clicking to a high degree, leaving their visiting opponents in the dust.
With the Braves hurting from a sorry loss to the Slingers, the Dragons took full advantage, walloping a listless Fubon squad to win 92-60. The Dragons ran away with this one via their high percentage three-point shooting, as they made 12 triples on a 42% clip compared to only 6 for the Braves.
With Cade Davis on the attack, the Dragons’ sharpshooter turned into videogame mode and shot the lights out of the MABA Stadium. The Braves simply had no answer for the energy and off-ball movement of Davis, as he made 21 points highlighted by 5 made triples.
Arguably the most consistent import in the ABL, Will Artino continues to keep chugging along, as the Dragons’ automatic 20 points and 10 rebounds man. With averages of 23.1 points, 13.1 rebounds and 1.8 blocks, Artino is simply a Dragon who gets it done, day in and out.
The Slingers, on the other hand, did an excellent job containing the scoring of the Braves, while their offense finally clicked led by an awesome shooting afternoon from Leon Kwek. It sets up this matchup, which is one of the most anticipated in the ABL season. Which team will be able to start the Straits Cup on the right track?
There have been some testy times against the Braves, but the Slingers showed that they have the ability to win in tight situations, as they took the overtime victory, 106-99. It was Leon Kwek that helped Singapore outscore the Braves 13-6 in the extra-inning, allowing the Slingers to get back on track before their match against the Dragons.
Kwek, the ABL veteran of the Slingers, showed that he’s just about to enter his prime as he helped guide his squad to the big win over the Braves. Kwek tallied a career-high 26 points, while also setting a new personal best with 7 made triples. It’s been quite the run for Kwek, and he’s been a big reason for the turnaround of Singapore after a slow start.
Xavier Alexander, the ABL’s reigning Player of the Week was in full effect against the Braves, as he racked up another triple-double in helping lead Singapore to victory. One of the most versatile imports in ABL history, Alexander continues to get better with age and seems to have found his groove playing alongside a ball-dominant player like Marcus Elliott.
There will definitely be no love given between these two squads as they compete on Valentine’s Day. Which team will come out of this battle smelling like roses?