The Singapore Slingers struck first in their best of three series against the Macau Black Bears, taking a 102-91 Game 1 victory in the OCBC Arena.
Leading the way with a big time performance for the Slingers was World Import John Fields, talying a game high 31 points. He also chipped in 3 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 blocks in the crucial victory.
The Slingers started out hot out of the gate, opening up a lead by as many as 11 points in the first quarter via a layup from Fields within the final 3 minutes of the quarter. The Slingers would eventually end the first period up by 9 points, 31-22.
However the Black Bears responded in the second quarter when the Slingers threatened to remain up by double digits entering the half. Macau’s Ryan Watkins and Mikh McKinney conspired to finish off the quarter with a 10-2 run, trimming the Slingers’ advantage to only two points, 50-48 at the end of the first half.
Macau would eventually gain the advantage in the third quarter, as Dewarick Spencer scored on a layup to inch the Black Bears up, 54-55. However the Slingers kept their composure, and Fields rocked the rim with back to back jams to restore order back to the home squad.
That triggered a big ending surge for the Slingers, part of a big run that helped the Slinger go up by 10 with a minute remaining in the third quarter. Freethrows from Spencer and a layup from Tian Zhongtian made the deficit more manageable entering the final frame, as the Slingers led 74-68 entering the final frame.
The fourth quarter was when the Slingers would take control of the game for good. The closest the Black Bears got was within 4 points of a Spencer jumper, but the rest of the way belonged to the Lion City. Ng Han Bin, Fields and Xavier Alexander conspired for a game breaking run that pushed the Slingers up by as many as 16 points, capped by a Jerran Young free throw with 3:28 remaining. Try as the Black Bears did, the Slingers held firm to preserve the win in front of home crowd, and come within one win of entering the semifinals.
Aside from Fields, the Slingers got terrific performances from Xavier Alexander and local star Delvin Goh. The X-Man had a near triple double of 25 points, 9 rebounds and 10 assists, acting as the point forward for the Slingers. Goh on the other hand was outstanding, with 18 points and 8 rebounds.
Ryan Warkins paced the Black Bears with 30 points and 17 rebounds, while Dewarick Spencer chipped in 25 points and 6 assists. Leading scorer Mikh McKinney bore the brunt of the Slingers’ defense but still finished with 21 points on 8/21 shooting.
The series shifts to Foshan on April 4, as the Black Bears will try and extend their season in a must-win Game 2. The Slingers on the other hand will attempt to return to the Semifinals, and complete the sweep of the Black Bears in their quarterfinals matchup.