By Kenneth Tan/Red Sports
Singapore Indoor Stadium, Tuesday, February 5, 2013 — The tide was turning against the Singapore Slingers in their ASEAN Basketball League (ABL) game against the Malaysia Dragons on Tuesday night.
Leading comfortably by 14 points at a stage, a slow final quarter by the Slingers saw the visitors pull within five points midway through and duly leveling matters at 59-all with 3:40 left on the clock.
It was a time for heroes to step up, and Mitchell Folkoff heeded that call.
Receiving a pass from the left from Desmond Oh, the unguarded 23-year-old seized the moment to unleash a tremendous three-pointer from just outside the arc.
“I was thinking, ‘Des, pass me the ball’ because I knew I could make the shot,” Mitchell described when quizzed about the picture-perfect moment.
“I caught it in rhythm and concentrated at that moment but I was not going to think twice. When it left my hands, I knew it was going in,” added Mitchell.
Eventually that spectacular hit proved to be the game-changer as the Slingers never relinquished the lead again to prevail 68-67 on the night.
It was the perfect comeback for the Singaporean who missed the last game through injury.
“I got injured in training a couple of days before last week’s game against Indonesia Warriors,” he explained.
“It was a swollen hip and coach (Neo Beng Siang) decided not to risk me that day. Thus I was really waiting to get out there (on the court) today.”
Mitchell recorded fine stats throughout the 30-odd minutes that he played. He hit 60% of his field goals, including two three-pointers, to accumulate nine points in total, while contributing five rebounds and six assists.
Looking beyond the numbers, his physique and bravery in defensive situations proved a real handful for the Dragons attack. Though shorter in height, he was tasked to guard American import Cedric Bozeman.
Mitchell’s teammates appreciated his contribution.
“He really did his job defensively today,” said teammate Wong Wei Long.
“He managed to stop the import (Bozeman) and gave us more opportunities in offense. We really appreciate what Mitch has done today,” added Wei Long.
“Mitch’s a strong guy and we needed him to be the aggressive guy today,” agreed captain Kyle Jeffers.
Being the perfectionist in him, Mitchell thought there are still areas to work on in his game.
“I think I fared much better than the first game (against the Thailand Slammers),” he said.
“In terms of defense – rebounds and loose balls, I gave everything but offensively, there were stretches where I could have done or contributed more.”
Meanwhile, the accolade of the best Singapore performer once again went to Wei Long who accumulated 13 points off the bench, including three from outside the arc.
Just like Mitchell, the 24-year-old thought he could have fared better.
“The team played well from the first three and a half quarters till the start of the fourth,” he assessed.
“We’ve been working on our defense the whole week and we managed to stop most of their danger men. For me personally, I will have to work a lot on my ‘twos’ – I hit three out of six for my ‘threes’ but only hit one out of eight for the ‘twos’, so I really need to work on that for my next game.”
Captain Jeffers braved a shoulder injury sustained in the final few minutes to finish off the game, collecting 24 points, 13 rebounds and six assists.
“It was physically tough today,” he said.
”They know the only way to stop me was to push and keep their bodies on me and I’m used to that. I got injured towards the back due to their constant hacking but I knew I got to be on the court for my team,” he said.
The Slingers will travel away to take on the Indonesia Warriors next Wednesday, February 13th.