The Singapore Slingers and Macau Black Bears begin their ASEAN Basketball League Quarterfinals in Game 1 of their best of three series in the OCBC Arena.
Since the Black Bears and Slingers were in different divisions, the two only matched up twice this season. The Slingers won both contests by double digits, led by their world imports John Fields and Jerran Young in seperate games. The Black Bears will have to find a way to solve the Slingers’ defensive chokehold. Do they have some tricks up their sleeve?
The Singapore Slingers stuck to its identity as a hard nosed, disciplined half court squad that executed well but defended to the death on every possession. As a result, they finished in third place despite the competition in the ABL being at an all-time high. They despite several local players being in and out of the lineup, the team never wavered, thanks to one of the best import trios in the ABL. Alexander, John Fields and Jerran Young all took turns carrying the Slingers at times in the season, and it yielded good results.
Back for another tour of duty, Alexander messed around and also made ABL history. In the final game of the regular season, Alexander established himself as the new all-time scoring leader of the ABL. With averages of 21.5 points, 10.0 rebounds, 5.4 assists and 2.3 steals, the X-Man is ready for another deep run in his 4th year with the Slingers
Much was expected of the Black Bears after they finished last year’s regular season as the top overall team before getting bounced by Mono Vampire Basketball Club early in the Playoffs. However spotty defense helped make the Black Bears tumble a bit in the standings. However the worst blow to the team was the injury sustained to reigning MVP Anthony Tucker in the middl e of the season. The team had to scramble to replace Tucker, and they got a gem in Dewarick Spencer. Can he be the answer to the team’s campaign?
While the Black Bears have struggled at times, Mikh McKinney continues to establish himself as one of the best players in the league. He took his game a step higher this season, as he led the league in scoring in the best offenive squad this season with 27.4 points per contest. His 6.4 dimes were also one of the best this season. Look for McKinney to shoulder a heavier load in the Playoffs. Is he up to the challenge?
The Slingers, by virtue of their third place finish will have home court advantage against the visiting Black Bears. They’re also riding a little momentum, as they ended their regular season win with a win against these same opponents. However the Black Bears are coming in boasting the best offense in the league, averaging 100.8 points per contest against one of the stingiest squads in the league.
It will be a classic battle of offense versus defense, as the Slingers surrender a measly 78.7 points to their opponents. Anchored by their rock Xavier Alexander, will the Slingers be able to protect home court against Mikh McKinney and the rest of the Black Bears?