Kwek posts career high in Slingers victory

Ask anyone in the Singapore Slingers camp to predict who was ready to have a breakout season and the answer was unanimous.

Leon Kwek.

The second year forward proved his teammates were right with a career high 20 points to help steer the home team to a comfortable 80-62 win over Malaysia Dragons in the Air Asia ASEAN Basketball League season opener at OCBC Arena on Friday night.

Kwek was on fire early, scoring 8 points in the opening quarter, and he remained a presence at both ends of the court for the entire game to end with an impressive all-round game of 20 points, 5 rebounds, 6 assists and 2 steals.

Kwek’s contribution was so immense that when he was on the court the Slingers outscored the Dragons by 27 points.

Kwek’s confidence was sky high at one stage when he gathered a loose ball rebound and nailed a turn around jump shot from near the three-point arc that had his teammates and coaches shaking their heads in disbelief at the end of the third quarter.

The 20-year old guard forward was ably assist by US import Justin Howard who dominated the big man battle with 22 points and 7 rebounds, while fellow American Xavier Alexander provided a spark in the third quarter to lead the team to a 14-point three-quarter time lead after scores were tied 32-32 at half time.

Alexander had a tremendous second half, driving to the hoop for layups and dunks, making assists, defending and rebounding and even knocking down 3-point shots to provide the match winning spark in the second half. He also finished with 20 points, gathered 10 rebounds and dished out 5 assists.

Reigning ASEAN heritage league MVP Wong Wei Long got hot in the second half and finished with 10 points, while Ng Han Bin scored 6 points in 28 minutes of court time, playing a valuable support role in the absence of injured pair Wu Qingde and Larry Liew.

Singapore started well with Howard dominating inside in the first quarter to help the Slingers to an 18-11 lead at the end of the first quarter.

The Slingers were unable to use Howard as well in the second quarter, and the Dragons fought back through the inspiring play of Kuek Tian Yuan who had 9 points in the quarter.

At one stage in the second quarter it was the Kwek v Kuek show as both local players were the most damaging players on the court.

It took an inspired effort from Alexander in the third quarter to break the deadlock and lead Singapore to an eventual easy 18-point victory.

Freddie Goldstein finished with a team high 22 points for the Dragons.

The Slingers travel to the Philippines on Saturday morning to play Alab Pilipinas on Sunday at 800pm.

Sunday’s game will be broadcast Live on StarHub’s Hubsports Arena (Channel 112/205) and StarHub Go mobile platform.

Article written by Michael Farrell

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