Story by Koh Yizhe/Red Sports. Photos by Clara Yuan and Laura Lee/Red Sports
OCBC Arena, Sunday, August 17, 2014 — After suffering two heavy defeats to the Malaysia Dragons, the Singapore Slingers finally beat their Causeway rivals 77–68 in the ASEAN Basketball League.
The Slingers had little luck against the Dragons recently, losing 57–65 back in July at home and suffering a crushing 59–85 defeat just two days ago in Kuala Lumpur (KL). It looked like much of the same would follow when they surrendered their double-digit early lead in the third quarter.
However, they held their nerve and took full advantage of Dragon’s centre Justin Knox’s absence after he fouled out in the fourth quarter to take the match.
“We tidied up on our transition defence after the match in KL,” explained Slingers head coach Neo Beng Siang.
“It killed us during the last match. Today, we let them into the game in the third quarter with turnovers but we stayed together as a team even when they caught up. We managed to get the win.”
Kyle Jeffers had a double-double with 17 points and 13 rebounds while Russel Low and Australian Adam Becis, a one-game replacement for the injured Hassan Adams, both added 12 points. Dragon’s Moala Tautuaa netted 13 points while Justin Knox had 12 in a foul-plagued outing.
There was nothing between the two teams in the opening minutes of the match as the scores were tied 6–6 midway through the first. However, the Slingers went on an 8–0 run in a two-minute span to establish a 14–6 lead. The Slingers led 19–11 at the end of the first.
Adam Becis, who works as an engineer locally, started the second quarter with a bang, nailing a trey to establish a 22–11 lead for the home side. However, the Dragons stormed right back, going on a 14–5 run, led by Wong Wee Seng. The Malaysian point guard scored all of his 11 points in that run as the Slingers’ lead was trimmed to just 27–25 with over five minutes played.
Not to be outdone, the Slingers went on a run of their own. Desmond Oh hit a three-pointer and Wong Wei Long made a three-point play to ensure the Slingers maintained a comfortable 43–32 lead at the half.
In the third quarter, the Slingers offence seemed to desert them. They lost their ranged entirely and that allowed the Dragons to creep back into the match. A pair of Eversley free throws tied it at 49–49 before a dunk by Tautuaa gave the Dragons the lead at 51–49 with 3 minutes 49 seconds left in the third.
The home side turned up their defence to ensure no more damage was done in the quarter and thanks to a jumper by Becis, the Slingers held a slim 54–52 lead heading into the last 10 minutes.
The final period was a tight one as both teams traded points. The turning point came when Knox fouled out of the game after just three fourth-quarter minutes. Becis then hit his third three-pointer of the night to give the Slingers a 62–60 lead and they never trailed from then.
Without their big man in the middle, the Dragon struggled both on offence and defence. Al Vergara nailed one from beyond the arc to make it 72–64 and essentially put the game to bed as they sealed the 77–68 win.
With the victory, the Slingers improve their win-loss record to 5-3.
The Indonesia Warriors are the next opponents for the Slingers and the two teams will face off on Friday, August 22, 2014 at the OCBC Arena at 8pm.
Scoring by quarter
Singapore Slingers vs Malaysia Dragons
1st Quarter: 19–11
2nd Quarter: 24–21 (43–32)
3rd Quarter: 11–20 (54–52)
4th Quarter: 23–16 (77–68)
Scoring by teams
Singapore Slingers: Jeffers – 17, Low – 12, Becis – 12, Vergara – 11, Wei Long – 11, Oh – 5, Han Bin – 4, Goh – 4, Wu – 1.
Malaysia Dragons: Tautuaa – 13, Knox – 12, Ban Sin – 11, Wong – 11, Eversley – 10, Scharer – 7, Yim – 2, Kuek – 2.
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