Hong Kong Eastern Basketball Team continued it’s winning ways, as they defeated the Singapore Singers 82-79 in the Southorn Stadium, Hong Kong.
The win was the seventh straight for the defending champions of the ABL, and their second over Singapore this season. It was an all-around effort led by the scoring exploits of Heritage Import Tyler Lamb, who paced his team with 25 points to go along with 3 rebounds, 3 assists and 4 steals.
This is the second time in league history which a team has started a season with seven straight wins. The other team to achieve the feat was Hitech Bangkok City who won seven straight games in 2014.
Lamb was ably supported by reigning World Import MVP Marcus Elliott, who finished with a near-triple double of 14 points, 10 rebounds and 8 assists. It took every single point to keep a Slingers team that was desperate to grab a win against their Finals torments to end 2017.
“I’m just satisfied we got the win,” Elliott bared after the game. “We’re closing out 2017 undefeated, and I’m just proud of my guys. I feel good.”
It wasn’t a good start for Elliott and his team in the beginning, as the Slingers looked deadly in the first half. They looked to get out in transition at every opportunity, eventually scoring 11 fastbreak points in the first half, while Hong Kong was held scoreless in that department.
Singapore led by as many as 11 points in the second quarter, as Ng Hanbin’s triple made it a 31-20 lead with 5:23 remaining. However the defending champions finally rolled up their sleeves and went to work. Triples from Li Kee and Lau Tsz Lai, along with the interior presence of Heritage Import Christian Standhardinger and a layup by Tang Chi Hang with 18 seconds remaining trimmed the Singapore lead to only 2 at 41-39 heading into the half.
Hong Kong would stay within striking distance in the third period, behind the brilliant shooting of the Local Player of the Week, Lee Ki and Heritage Import Player of the Week, Lamb. Finally they would go ahead with 3:14 left in the third quarter courtesy of free throws from Elliott. Slingers Heritage Import AJ Mandani immediately restored the lead back to Singapore, as he knocked down a pair of triples. However a Standhardinger basket with 20 seconds remaining tied the game up at 65-all heading into the final canto.
The fourth quarter began with a rare four point play for Hong Kong Eastern, as Lee Ki knocked down a triple and free throw after the foul. From then on, it was the Big Three of Hong Kong Eastern that kept the home team ahead, as Standhardinger, Elliott and Lamb scored the remaining 13 points of the quarter for Hong Kong. Most importantly, their defense limited Singapore to only 14 points in the period, a far cry from their output in the first three quarters.
“I think it’s little plays all throughout the game,” Elliott said about the team’s performance in the final quarter. “Not just the fourth quarter, but communication. More communication than defense.”
The Slingers tried to mount one final rally in the final two minutes, as they found themselves down by two points with Standhardinger at the free throw striple. He would make one out of two, but Alexander bricked a tough running triple at the buzzer, sealing their fate and keeping Hong Kong undefeated thus far in the ABL.
Standhardinger had a double-double performance of 16 points and 13 rebounds, holding down the fort as fellow import Ryan Moss fouled out in 20 minutes of action. Lee finished with 14 points on 3/7 shooting from the perimeter.
Xavier Alexander paced the Slingers with 20 points, 8 rebounds and 12 assists, while Mandani chipped in 16 points on 4/6 from beyond the arc.
Hong Kong stays ahead of the pack with a 7-0 record, while Singapore falls to 3-4 in the standings, good for 4th place.