The Singapore Slingers moved within one win away from securing their first ASEAN Basketball League championship after outlasting the BTN CLS Knights Indonesia, 63-60 in Game 3, Wednesday at GOR Kertajaya.
Both the Knights and the Slingers figured in a grind-it-out defensive dogfight with the visiting team doing just enough in the endgame.
Jerran Young and John Fields scored 16 points apiece and the two World Imports combined for 23 rebounds. Xavier Alexander meanwhile nearly got a triple-double with 11 points, nine rebounds, and eight assists.
“Defensively, we held them to 60 points. We didn’t play well on offense but defensively we were locked in,” said Singapore head coach Neo Beng Siang.
Unlike the two previous contests that resulted in blowouts, the third game went down the wire.
Alexander converted on a tough, off-balance lay-up with 25.2 seconds remaining to give Singapore a precarious 60-57 lead. Needing a quick bucket, the Knights went to Maxie Esho for a dunk to make it a one-point game.
The home team still had a chance to tie or take the lead after Delvin Goh split his free throws. Goh also committed the mistake of fouling Brandon Jawato with 3.8 seconds left. However, Jawato failed to cash in on the opportunity as he went 1-for-2 from the line.
Young gave the Slingers enough cushion after knocking down a pair of free throws. With 2.7 seconds left, the Knights raced down the court but Esho’s desperation shot from beyond the arc missed.
Esho finished with 19 points and 13 rebounds while Douglas Herring chipped in with 12 points, five boards, and seven dimes.
The Knights only shot 32 percent from the field but still managed to hit 10 triples. The Slingers were slightly better at 33 percent and won the rebounding battle 52-43.
The Slingers look to close out the series and win the title in Game 4 on Saturday.
“We want to finish it off here,” coach Beng Siang said. “We have to be mentally tough and be more physical, lock it down, and play our basketball.”