ABL: Slingers hang on to beat Dragons by 1 point
By Koh Yizhe/Red Sports
Singapore Indoor Stadium, Tuesday, February 6, 2013 — The Singapore Slingers survived a late onslaught from the Malaysia Dragons to hang on for a 68-67 win in the ASEAN Basketball League (ABL) and snap a two-game losing streak.
The Slingers made it hard for themselves as they nearly blew a 14-point, third quarter lead. Slack defending in the final quarter allowed the Dragons to make a run in the fourth quarter and the visitors from across the Causeway were able to level the game at 59-59 with 3 minutes 46 seconds remaining.
However, Dragons top scorer Cedric Bozeman went down with a knee injury less than a minute later and Moala Tautuaa missed a chance to tie the game at 66-66 when he missed his dunk attempt with 11 seconds to go. Jun Cabatu then nailed two free throws to ice the game, making Loh Shee Fai’s final three-pointer for the Dragons meaningless.
“If only we played the way we did in the fourth quarter, we could have won this game,” bemoaned Dragons head coach Ariel Vanguardia. “We were more aggressive in the final quarter and wanted the loose ball more. We gave them a good fight and brought them out of their comfort zone.”
“It (Tautuaa’s dunk) was a rookie mistake. He had chances to do that in the game, but he picked that time to do it. However, we did not lose that game on that possession,” added the Filipino head coach.
American import Kyle Jeffers scored a game-high 24 points, pulled down 13 rebounds and made six assist and the Slingers now have a 2-2, win-loss record. Slingers’ other import, Rashad Jones-Jennings, only had four points but dominated the glass with 18 rebounds while Wong Wei Long got 13 points, including three from distance.
The Slingers out-rebounded the Dragons 45-33, making 25 offensive boards which resulted in 19 second-chance points as compared to the Dragons’ four. Bozeman netted 16 points and six rebounds for the Dragons, while Loh finished with 14 points, hitting four from three-point range. Import Gavin Edwards had a quiet game, scoring just 8 points and 13 rebounds as the Dragons lost their fourth straight.
The Dragons got off to a flying start, establishing a 14-5 lead within the first couple of minutes. A Mitchell Folkoff three-pointer, however, started a 9-0 Slingers run as they swiftly tied the game at 14-14.
Bozeman netted the last basket of the quarter to give the visitors the slim advantage, but momentum was with the home team and they quickly built up a good lead in the second quarter. Wong Wei Long was pure from distance in the second period as he nailed a pair of treys while Jeffers scored nine of his 24 points in this period to give the Slingers a healthy 37-29 lead at the half.
Folkoff also had an outstanding 10 minutes as well, dishing out four assists and grabbing five rebounds to go with his three points. He eventually finished with 9 points, 5 rebounds, 6 assist and 3 steals.
Much of the same followed in the third quarter as the Slingers soon accumulated their biggest lead of the match. Jeffers got the crowd on their feet with a massive dunk and Wei Long nailed his third three-pointer of the night to make it a 14-point lead midway through the third.
It looked like the Slingers would cruise to victory at this point with a 53-44 lead at the start of the fourth, but an aggressive Dragons side would not like the host have their way. They rebounded much better and went on a 15-2 run, with Loh leading the charge with a couple of three pointers.
In contrast, the Slingers failed to make their shots count, making just four field goals in the quarter. Their defence was also in shambles and were unable to make the necessary stops to halt the Dragons.
Disaster stuck for the Dragons as Bozeman went down clutching his knee with less than three minutes remaining, but the Dragons were still able to keep up with the Slingers.
However, with time winding down, Folkoff deliver what proved to be the killer blow as he nailed a three-pointer to put some breathing space between the teams. The Dragons would get a chance to tie the game, but Tautuaa was a little too excited as he opted to dunk when a simple layup would suffice and the Slingers survived.
“It’s a win, but we were let down by on our defence and took it for granted when we were leading,” said Slingers head coach Neo Beng Siang. “I’m disappointed about that as a coach. We definitely made it hard for ourselves and were a bit lucky on the last break.”
The Slingers will hope to continue their winning ways against the Indonesia Warriors next Wednesday in Jakarta at the Senayan Indoor Stadium. Game starts at 8pm.
Score by Quarters
Slingers vs Warriors
1st Q: 14-16
2nd Q: 23-13 (37-29)
3rd Q: 16-15 (53-44)
4th Q: 15-23 (68-67)
Slingers: Jeffers — 24 pts, Wei Long — 13 pts, Dulay — 10 pts, Mitchell Folkoff — 9 pts, Cabatu — 6, Jones-Jennings — 4 pts, Oh — 2 pts.
Dragons: Bozeman – 16, Loh – 14, Tautaa – 12, Edwards – 8, Cabahug – 6, Batumalai – 5, Ooi – 4, Kwaan – 2