With an 89-70 road win against the Macau Black Bears and with a superior quotient against the BTN CLS Knights Indonesia, the Singapore Slingers are assured of home-court advantage to star the 2019 ABL season playoffs.
The Slingers bounced back nicely after losing their last game against the Saigon Heat as their vaunted defense tightened in the second half against the hot-shooting Black Bears.
After being down by five points, 36-31, at the half, Desmond Oh quickly leveled the game as he started the second half with five straight. Macau was able to retake the lead but Singapore caught fire near the tail end of the third period as they went on a 13-0 run, turning a three point deficit at 46-43 to a double-digit advantage at 56-46.
This fiery run featured three conversions from the three-point range, two from Jerran Young and one from Ng Hanbin. This would prove to be the decisive blow in the game. The Black Bears tried to rally as they brought their deficit down to just six points a couple of times but the Slingers always had answers as they established their biggest lead of the game near the final buzzer.
Young was on fire in the contest with 25 points on 9 of 12 shooting from the three-point range, finishing one triple shy of the record set by Matthew Wright a few years ago when he was still playing for the Westports Malaysia Dragons.
John Fields got his usual double-double with 18 points and 10 rebounds while Xavier Alexander posted a triple-double with 13 points, 10 rebounds, and 13 assists.
Being able to limit their turnovers was huge for the Slingers as they did not allow the Black Bears to get any easy opportunities to score. They also got enough from the locals as Hanbin and Desmond combined for 17 points in the game, powered by four triples.
Even though their 58-point second half was definitely impressive, what won the game for Singapore was their effort on the other side as the limited Macau to under 20 points in the first, third, and fourth quarters.
Mikh McKinney’s unbelievable run of scoring at least 20 points per game was finally halted as he was held to only 12 points although he still got six rebounds and eight assists. Dewarick Spencer, the reigning Player of the Week who’s averaging better than 35 points per game, was limited to only 11 points on 3 of 12 shooting.
Only Ryan Watkins was able to get his usual numbers with 23 points and 14 rebounds.
It is still not known which team will be facing off against the Slingers in the quarterfinals as they are still many variables depending on the results of the final five games of the regular season. Luckily for Singapore, they were three points better than the Knights in their head-to-head battle, locking the Slingers at the third spot even if the two teams finish with identical 15-11 win-loss tallies.
Singapore will close out its elimination round schedule at home of Sunday against the Mono Vampire Basketball Club.