The Singapore Slingers had to dig deep within themselves beyond 40 minutes of basketball to find the will to defeat their rivals in the ASEAN Basketball League. And in doing so, they eked out a win in one of the most thrilling battles of the season.
The Slingers outlasted the Westports Malaysia Dragons in a pulse-pounding double overtime victory, winning 90-89 at the OCBC Arena in Singapore.
World Imports Xavier Alexander and Chris Charles played a grueling 50 and 48 minutes respectively, absolutely essential to the Slingers’ victory. Alexander finished with 32 points, 8 rebounds, 8 assists and 7 steals, while Charles chipped in 17 points, 18 rebounds and 3 blocks.
The Slingers were in firm control early in the rematch of the Causeway Rivalry, as they had also won the first game of their head to head matchup last week. Singapore raced to a 44-29 advantage, frustrating the Dragons into poor shooting in the field. World Imports Marcus Marshall and AJ West in particular struggled from the floor, as the Dragons couldn’t keep in step with an efficient shooting Slingers squad.
However the tide would turn in the third period, as Marshall finally woke up. He scored 11 in the period, while local player Kuek Tian Yuan also delivered. A layup from Kuek with 1:46 remaining in the quarter brought the Dragons to within one point, 48-47.
The fourth quarter seemingly belonged to the Slingers, as Ng Han Bin’s triple with 4:03 remaining gave them a 68-60 advantage. Things would only get worse for the visitors as Marshall went down with a leg injury at the 3:06 mark. He would have to exit the game, unable to return.
His teammates would keep up the fight, led by Heritage Imports Patrick Cabahug and Joshua Munzon. Cabahug scored 5 points in the final minute of action, while Munzon was able to force an unsportsmanlike foul on AJ Mandani when his team was inbounding. He would can both free throws, and force up a shot that went in at the buzzer, sending the game into the first overtime.
The first extra period was a back and forth affair, with Alexander and Cabahug trading baskets all throughout. A shot by Alexander with 43 seconds remaining gave the Slingers a slim two point lead, 81-79. But clutch free throws by Cabahug at the 28 second mark would tie the game once again. Goh had a chance to win the game, but his undergoal stab would not fall, sending the game into the second overtime.
The Dragons would put the pressure on the Slingers, as they raced to a six point lead behind AJ West and Munzon’s baskets. However West’s dunk at the 4:00 minute mark would be his last, as he fouled out of the contest. Kuek would follow suit at the 1:01 mark, leaving Coach Chris Thomas with few options at the frontcourt.
The Slingers took advantage as Alexander and Charles attacked relentlessly in the paint. A basket by Charles and split free throws from Alexander gave the Slingers a one point lead with 22 seconds remaining. The Dragons would have one last chance, but Munzon’s desperation pull-up jumper would not fall, as the Slingers celebrated their hard-fought win.
The duo of Delvin Goh and Ng Han Bin were instrumental in Singapore’s win. Han Bin had 14 points highlighted by four triples, while Goh had 12 points and 8 rebounds for the Slingers.
Tian Kuek Yuan had a season-high and team-high of 21 points and 15 rebounds in an inspired effort for his squad. Munzon had 20 points and 10 assists, while Cabahug came on late to contribute 18 points.
Singapore rises in the standings, now with a 7-6 record. The Dragons fall to 3-7 in solo seventh place.