Even though it turned out to be a high-scoring game, which the Singapore Slingers are not accustomed to, they did enough to defend their home-court against the Macau Black Bears with a 102-91 victory, Sunday afternoon at the OCBC Arena.
The Slingers join the BTN CLS Knights Indonesia as the two teams who were able to take care of business at home as top teams Formosa and San Miguel Alab Pilipinas got bitten by the upset bug.
Singapore got the jump on the Black Bears as Jerran Young scored 12 points in the opening quarter to help them take an early lead 31-22. However, the fiery offense of Macau finally clicked in the second quarter as they ended with with a 10-2 run, capped by a Ryan Watkins three-point shot to trim their deficit down to just two points, 50-48, heading into the half.
The visitors started the third quarter well as their for long-range connections from Mikh McKinney and Tian Zhongtian to build their biggest lead of the contest at 58-54.
However, the Slingers quickly recovered to built a double-digit lead 74-64 after an and-one play from Xavier Alexander. Singapore then stretched their lead to it biggest at 16 points, 93-77, late in the final period before cruising to the victory.
Heading into the game, Singapore was weary about the play-making abilities of McKinne and Dewarick Spencer but it looked like the devised a plan wherein they’d allowed Watkins to take most of the shots instead of having the ball of the deadly hands of McKinney and Spencer. It worked wonders for them as Watkins was the top-scorer with 30 points alongside 17 rebounds. McKinney still finished with 21 points and nine assists while Spencer chipped in25 points and six assists but it would not be enough to overcome the gallant Slingers.
Once again, John Fields was the main man with 31 points of 15 of 20 shooting from the field. Alexander finished a rebound short of a triple-double with 25 points, nine rebounds, and 10 assists while Young finished with 20 points, most coming in the first half.
The X-factor in the game for the Slingers was Delvin Goh who finished with 18 points and eight rebounds on 9 of 10 shooting from the field.
“We need to be mentally prepared and focused and come in with good energy. We don’t want to come back here for Game 3. We want to finish the series there,” said Singapore head coach Neo Beng Siang as his team prepares to travel to the Foshan International Sports and Cultural Center where they will take on the Black Bears for Game 2 on April 4.
“We need the consistency to be there, specially for the locals. It’s always on and off for us. Sometimes we play well, the other times we don’t. This can’t happen anymore in the playoffs because one loss can really hurt out chances.”