Two veteran ABL squads will collide for the first time this season, as the Singapore Slingers tangle with the Saigon Heat. Both teams are neck and neck in the Playoff race, and fresh from victories that are keeping them firmly entrenched in the top 6.
The Slingers are back in action after two weeks off. Their previous win was a 72-65 slugfest against the Formosa Dreamers. It was an ugly game at times, but the Slingers were able to gut out a win against a gritty Formosa Dreamers squad. They had a major advantage in rebounding, which gave them extra possessions and opportunities to score. They also had more assists, sharing the ball around and getting better looks at the basket.
Despite the presence of Ronnie Aguilar, the veteran Chris Charles was a force for the Slingers. He finished with a season high 34 points, and also hauled down 16 boards for the Slingers. Charles has given the Slingers an inside presence that was lacking at the start of the season. This defensive presence has helped alter a lot of shots, shoring up the Slingers’ defense heading into the playoffs.
The Heat on the other hand were in a dogfight against the CLS Knights. They had to battle down the stretch to keep the home team at bay, eventually winning a 93-88 decision. Free throws gave Saigon the advantage, as they were able to knock down five more from the charity stripe, which spelled the difference in the end.
Even without Moses Morgan, who was nursing a leg injury, Saigon was able to preserve the victory despite a late run by the home team. The athletic and versatile Maxie Esho continues to fortify the paint for the Heat, giving Saigon a big man that can score inside and outside. Despite Brian Williams shadowing him throughout the game, Esho powered through with 27 points, 11 rebounds and 4 blocks.
The Slingers and Heat are both fresh off a victory. They have been up and down almost the entire season, and are searching for consistency in matching up agains their opponents. Which squad will be able to pick up the second straight win?