ABL10: 🏀KL Dragons 70 – 67 Singapore Slingers🏀
For the first time since 2014, we won our regular season series (3 – 1) against the Singapore Slingers in a thrilling 70-67 victory.
We started the game on form from beyond the arc as Cade Davis’s triple three pointers helped us establish an early eight point lead. Last season’s runners up hit back off a timeout with a 8-1 run, trimming the lead to only one. Amir Bell’s jumper gave us a bit of separation as we ended the first quarter with a 19-16 lead.
We pushed hard in the paint, causing foul troubles for Singapore’s bigs, and took advantage, stretching our lead to as high as nine thanks to Will Artino’s 15 first half points. In similar fashion to end of the first quarter, it was deja vu with the Slingers making another push as they found their form from long range. Leon Kwek and the 2016/2017 World Import MVP Marcus Elliott combined for triple three pointers to cut our lead to one going into the half time break.
The Slingers kept their form going and started the third quarter on a 6-0 run to take a five point lead. Simeon Lepichev finally got us going with a lay up to start a 7-0 run to retake our lead.
It was a close quarter as our teams traded leads for the rest of the quarter. We had the last laugh as Cade Davis made a tough layup to preserve our one point lead going into the final quarter.
It was a tough physical affair as three players on both sides were already on four personal fouls before the final quarter.
The start of the fourth quarter was an intense one as both our teams only had one basket each for the first four minutes. Things began to look tough for us as the Slingers were able to push the lead to four with four minutes remaining thanks to baskets from Xavier Alexander and Jameel McKay.
The ensuing play was a key one from our big man Will Artino as he completed a tough three point play that gave Jameel McKay his fifth foul, giving the debuting McKay a fouled out welcome to the ASEAN Basketball League.
With Amir Bell and Cade Davis heavily guarded and struggling on offence, it was our local guard from Sabah, Chin Cheng Wah, who stepped up late in the game. Wah first drew an offensive foul from Marcus Elliott and before nailing a clutch three pointer to give us the lead with two minutes remaining.
Despite Simeon Lepichev extending our lead to four after a huge Amir Bell block on Kelvin Lim, Xavier Alexander sank a three pointer with thirty seconds remaining as the game went right down to the wire.
For the second time this season, it was Amir Bell’s calmness down the stretch that took us home. Our point guard sank a long jumper to make it a three point lead with eight seconds remaining. Bell and Cade Davis then combined for some great defensive play, resulting in a failed three point effort from Marcus Elliot as we sealed a 70-67 win.
Our best performer was none other than Will Artino who finished with 25 points, 16 rebounds, 5 assists and 2 blocks on an efficient 68% shooting performance. Simeon Lepichev punched in a 13 points 11 rebounds performance while Cade Davis contributed 14 points.
For the third time this season, we held the Slingers to below 70 points and only allowed them 31% of their field goal attempts tonight.
After the game, Head Coach Jamie Pearlman said, “Another great game between us and the Slingers. We really had to grind it out in the end. Their zone defence really slowed us down and caused us problems. Towards the end, we were really struggling to find someone to shoot the ball. It was really cool to see Chin Cheng Wah step up to make that massive shot for us.”
The win improves our record to 10-7 and sends us up to third in the standings.
Our next encounter will be on the road against the league’s current number two team, San Miguel Alab Pilipinas on at 4.00 PM, on the 10th of March at the Santa Rosa Arena in Laguna, Philippines.
Since our last encounter, Alab has made some significant line up changes. The Filipinos will finally have a key member of their championship team, Justin Brownlee, back on board after he missed the past two games. Another major signing is former Singapore Slingers center, 31 year old 6 ft 9 American center John Fields, who replaces Samuel Deguara.
Fields was instrumental in leading the Slingers to their runners up finish last season, averaging 21.6 points and 12.4 rebounds.
A win against Alab could possibly push us up to second place.
Fans can catch the game on Astro Arena and ASEAN Basketball League’s social media page.