In one fell swoop, the home court advantage that the Singapore Slingers have worked so hard for all season long is gone.
With a Game 1 victory on the road, the BTN CLS Knights Indonesia have all of a sudden turned from underdogs to favorites, which leaves the Slingers with no other choice but to give it their all in Game 2 at home or kiss their title hopes goodbye.
With the Knights playing very well at home, going 10-3 in the elimination round and being undefeated in their three playoff games in Surabaya, they know that they’ll still have a great chance at closing out the series at home. However, they also understand that getting the title will almost be guaranteed if they head home with a 2-0 series lead against the Slingers.
The biggest reason for the Knights’ Game 1 victory was their defense in the third quarter. While the Slingers are seen as the better defensive team, BTN CLS limited them to only 13 markers in the period, which turned the game into their favor. For the Slingers to pull even, they’ll have to recover their old deadly defensive form.
Playing top-class defense for Singapore will be a little tougher to do it still isn’t known if Jerran Young will be fit to play. He suffered a leg injury in the third period and it cost them dearly as they were had one less weapon on offense and without the glue guy on defense.
Xavier Alexander had a decent performance to try and make up for Young’s absence as he flirted with a triple-double once again. However, if Young will continue to be unavailable, Alexander must produce more points or the Slingers will not have a chance.
The big man matchup was pretty even in Game 1 with John Fields and Daryl Watkins pretty much cancelling each other out in points and rebounds. It was in efficiency where Watkins had the edge as he scored four more points in three less shots and committed only a single turnover as compared to Fields’ seven.
The main locals of both teams also played well with Delvin Goh doing his usual damage inside while Brandon Jawato was aggressive in attacking the basket. They will be key figures again in the second game.
For Singapore, they’ll also need Larry Liew and Ng Hanbin to stay aggressive and let fly from the three point range because they’ll need all the help they could get from the locals if Young isn’t play or isn’t feeling 100%.
Even though the Knights were missing a key figure in Wong Wei Long, Maxie Esho did not allow them to play subpar. Esho was aggressive from the start of the ball game and he made his teammates believe that they really had the chance to shock Singapore in Game 1.
With the Knights getting the victory in the first game, there are two ways to look at things for Wei Long. First, he can look at it as an additional opportunity to rest and get back into action when the series shifts to their home floor. On the other end, he can also take this as a chance to help out to try and pick up a dominant 2-0 series lead and get one more chance to play in front of his fellow Singaporeans this season.