The Singapore Slingers continued their mastery over Westports Malaysia Dragons on Friday night, sweeping the regular season series with an 88-73 win at the MABA Stadium in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
As much as it was a collective effort for the Singaporean squad, the man of the match was none other than Xavier Alexander. The Slingers veteran notched 2,000 career points in the ABL, a momentous achievement he now shares with only one other player, his former teammate Justin Howard. The X-Man finished with 25 points, including two triples, and added seven rebounds and four assists. He captured the feat early in the fourth period with a pair of free throws after driving hard to the hoop, a testament to the game he’s built on attacking the basket.
The fourth meeting between the two rival countries started out promising for the home team. After getting blown out by an average of 34 points in three previous contests, the Dragons came out determined not only to finally win one against the Slingers but more importantly to bolster their playoff chances. Spearheaded by Winston Shepard and Nnanna Egwu, the Dragons were able to take a six-point lead at halftime. However, the Slingers flipped the script in the third quarter and poured in 31 points while limiting the Dragons to 15, to enjoy a 10-point lead heading into the final frame. From then on, it was smooth sailing for the visiting team, punctuated by a 3-pointer from Ng Han Bin to hold a 22-point advantage with three and a half minutes remaining.
Jerran Young, fresh from his 41-point outburst in his previous game, was right behind Alexander with 23 points, five rebounds, seven assists, and four steals. John Fields was his usual self in the paint, collecting a double-double of 17 points and 13 boards while also being instrumental on the defensive end with four steals. Singapore also welcomed the hot shooting of Larry Liew off the bench as the marksman buried four treys to finish with 12 points.
For the Dragons, Egwu and Shepard finished with 20 points apiece. Malaysia’s third World Import Chris Eversley, unfortunately, had a quiet night of eight points on 3-of-9 shooting.
The Slingers had a 37-29 rebounding edge and forced 19 turnovers. Both teams shot relatively well but it was the second-half scoring of Singapore that proved to be the difference. With Alexander and Young leading the way, the Slingers scored a total of 57 points in the last two quarters while limiting the Dragons to only 36.
Both the Slingers and the Dragons will be back in action this Sunday, March 17. The Slingers travel to Vietnam to take on the Heat while the Dragons have an important matchup against eighth-place Mono Vampire Basketball Club.