Despite losing their heart and soul for the final minute and a half of the deciding game, the Singapore Slingers perserved, and found a way to survive.
Their reward is a thrilling victory and safe passage into the Semifinals.
Bucking the absence of Xavier Alexander in the end game due to a disqualfying fifth personal foul, the Singapore Slingers rode the clutch shooting of Jerran Young to prevail over the proud Macau Black Bears 81-79 inside the OCBC Arena in Singapore.
Alexander battled foul trouble all game and looked to have done a great job of finishing the game without picking up his fifth personal foul. However at the 1:39 mark, the Black Bears’ Mikh McKinney baited Alexander into challenging a tough jumper and was whistled for the contact. To make matters worse, a goal tending violation was also called which trimmed the Slingers to two points, 78-74.
With Alexander out, the Slingers needed someone to step up big time. On the next possession, they came up empty. Mikh McKinney responded by driving down the gut of the defense to scor eon a basket plus a bonus free throw, which he sank. All of a sudden, it was Macau that was up by a single point, 79-78.
The two teams exchanged missed baskets, with Young and Lai Ka Tong bricking jumpers. The Slingers would get back the ball with 31 seconds remaining. That would be enough time for Young to hit the biggest shot of the game- a pull up jumper over the outstretched arms of Ryan Watkins to swing the lead back to the Slingers.
The Black Bears failed to respond, as McKinney and Watkins missed two opportunities to grab the lead. Afterwards, a free throw from Fields coupled with a missed desperation triple attempt from Dewarick Spencer sealed the victory for the Slingers, as they celebrated in front of their home crowd.
The game winner from Young made up for what was actually a quiet night heading into the fourth period. He scored 9 of his total points in the fourth quarter, while chipping in 5 rebounds and 5 assists. Fields tallied a double-double of 23 points and 14 rebounds, while Alexander was brilliant again with 24 points, 7 rebounds and 8 assists before fouling out.
Key for the Slingers was the contributions of their locals. Delvin Goh bounced back from a scoreless Game 2 to to chip in a near double-double of 9 points and 9 rebounds, while Ng Han Bin splashed 2 triples to finish with 7 points.
Dewarick Spencer paced the Black Bears with 28 points, 9 rebounds and 9 assists. MVP candidate Mikh McKinney had a tough shooting afternoon, scoring 18 points on 6/15 from the field. Watkins had a double-double of 15 points and 10 rebounds in the loss.
With the victory, the Slingers advance to the Semifinals, where they will lock horns with Hong Kong Eastern Basketball Team, the team that eliminated the second seed San Miguel Alab Pilipinas in a two game sweep. By virtue of the higher record, the Slingers will have homecourt advantage when the series commences next week.