A season ago, the Hong Kong Eastern Basketball Team and Singapore Slingers fought tooth and nail for the ABL championship.
On Sunday, the two proud teams clashed once again and the defending champions still had the upper hand, if ever so slightly.
Hong Kong Eastern reigned supreme once again coming away with an 81-77 victory over the Slingers at the OCBC Arena in Singapore. They have now improved to a league-best 4-0 record.
Tyler Lamb top-scored for Hong Kong with 30 points, tying his career-high, including four triples, together with 9 rebounds, 3 assists, and 3 steals. Marcus Elliott meanwhile had a solid all-around effort of 17 points, 7 rebounds, 9 assists. The reigning World Import MVP was also a beast on the defensive end, racking up 6 steals.
Hong Kong has been on a tear to start the season. They pulled through impressive wins over Alab Pilipinas, CLS Knights, Mono Vampire, and now the Slingers, all on the road.
Last year’s runner-up threw everything but the kitchen sink in the hopes of spoiling Hong Kong’s winning streak. Xavier Alexander poured in 21 points, 13 rebounds, and 8 assists as he tried to fill up the stats sheet once again. Fellow World Import Ryan Wright had a solid double-double performance of 17 points and 16 rebounds.
Delvin Goh also stepped up to support the imports with 10 points, 7 rebounds, and 3 assists.
Just like their finals series last season, it was another close battle when the two teams met again on Sunday. However, Hong Kong displayed their championship poise and experience down the stretch to outlast the gritty Singapore team on the road.
Hong Kong had a slim 79-75 late in the fourth as Singapore was trying to catch up. Unfortunately, a pair of sorry misses by Larry Liew and Wright put themselves in a tougher predicament. A split on the line by Elliott made it a five-point game with 25 seconds left on the clock.
Singapore made one last stand when AJ Mandani got a steal and Alexander was able to score, cutting the deficit, 80-77, with 5.1 seconds remaining. After Lamb went 1-for-2 on the charity stripe, Singapore failed to score on the next possession, sealing the win for the defending champions.
Hong Kong will make their home debut on Wednesday, December 13, as they take on the visiting Alab Pilipinas.