The BTN CLS Knights Indonesia are the new kings of the ASEAN Basketball League.
The Indonesian squad took home the championship in thrilling fashion, pulling off an 84-81 come-from-behind Game 5 win over the Singapore Slingers, Wednesday night at the OCBC Arena.
And as fate would have it, the game’s biggest dagger came from former Slingers guard Wong Wei Long. The two-time Local MVP hit a booming triple with 53.2 seconds remaining to give his team the lead for good.
“It was emotional for me,” Wong said about his shot. “My mom, my dad, my wife, my brother, my sister-in-law, they are all here, supporting me.”
“Douglas (Herring) gave me the shot. We ran through the play the coach wanted to do. I didn’t play a very good Finals but when the coach called for me I’m always ready for the last second shots.”
The Knights were trailing for most of the game, including being down by 10 points in the fourth quarter. But the visiting team proved to be resilient down the stretch, clawing their way back into the contest.
“We were losing by 10 points and we fought back and these guys kept fighting,” said coach Brian Rowsom.
Aside from Wong’s late 3-pointer, it was also the late-game heroics of Maxie Esho that helped Indonesia pull off the comeback. The Knights were still down by five points in the last four minutes, but the versatile forward single-handedly kept his team afloat. He scored on a layup and sank a gutsy shot from beyond the arc to tie the game at 79-all, setting the stage for Wong’s go-ahead triple.
Esho finished 25 points, 22 coming from the second half, while adding eight rebounds. His all-around play throughout the series earned him the Finals MVP trophy.
“I’m speechless. My first championship as a pro basketball player,” Esho shared. “It’s very overwhelming. I practice every day, I go hard, my teammates go hard.”
Douglas Herring provided the Knights with 18 points, six rebounds, and seven assists. He also knocked down two crucial free throws in the last 11 seconds to give his team enough cushion. Darryl Watkins muscled his way to a double-double of 17 points and 11 rebounds while Brandon Jawato had a solid outing of 16 points and three steals. Wong finished with just six points but hit the game’s biggest basket.
Xavier Alexander put a triple-double effort of 23 points, 12 rebounds, and 10 assists in a losing effort for the Slingers. Fellow World Imports Jerran Young chipped in with 20 points and John Fields tallied 13 points and 11 boards. Singapore also got help from Delvin Goh and his 19-point, 11-rebound outing.
The Knights are the second team from Indonesia to win the ABL title.
“We gave a lot of blood, sweat, and tears. We dedicated ourselves for this,” said Esho. “I know the owners, the players, the coaches, the trainers, everybody who’s a big part of this. It’s all love, it’s all family here.”