Singapore 9th April 2018
For the first time in 2 seasons the ABL finals will not include the Singapore Slingers. After a tough season that had many disruptions, including players being unavailable for training and games due to NS duties, training venue issues and injuries the Slingers battled their way into the ABL playoffs for a 4th straight season.
Although the Slingers quarter-final series was finished in 2 games it could have gone either way with just 3 points separating the teams in both games. Amazingly the score in both game 1 & 2 finished 85-82.
Mono Vampire Basketball Club completed the semifinal cast of ABL Season 8 as they sealed their quarterfinal duel against the Singapore Slingers with an 85-82 victory at the OCBC Arena.
It was almost a mirror of what transpired in Game 1 at the Stadium 29 in Bangkok. With the seconds ticking away in the fourth quarter, the Slingers had the chance to send in into an overtime period. In Game 1, AJ Mandani missed at the buzzer. In Game 2, it was Xavier Alexander who came up short.
With the tough series victory, Mono Vampire earned the right to challenge the top-ranked Chong Son Kung Fu Basketball Club in the semis with the series starting on Wednesday.
Tha Thai team set a new record for the most number of threes made in an ABL playoff game as Singletary connected with a tough shot with 1:44 left in the game for an 82-77 advantage.
However, the Slingers refused to fall without a fight as Alexander converted on a short jump shot before assisting Mandani for a game-tying three. The problem for the Slingers was on the other side of the floor. They forced several misses from Mono but gave up offensive rebounds key possessions.
Mono Vampire grabbed a crucial offensive rebound with time running out forcing the Slingers to foul Mono’s Singletary to the free throw line with the chance to ice the game. Singletary missed the first free-throw which gave Singapore one last chance.
With 5.3 seconds remaining, Alexander caught the inbound pass from Chris Charles. The talented World Import drew the attention of two defenders and his off balance desperation 3 came up short.
Alexander sat on the floor as the buzzer sounded as the rest of the Slingers were also left shattered as the teams streak of making it to the ABL Finals ended at two years in a row.
“I trust Xavier’s judgment,” said Mandani after the game. “I thought I was open but he took a shot that he can make. I’m not going to question his decision because we would not even have gotten to that point if it wasn’t for him.”
Charles had 20 points and six rebounds as he battled with Sam Deguara’s size and foul trouble for much of the match.
Singletary led Mono Vampire with 29 points including 6 of 9 from the three-point range. Zamar and Ananti combined for 30 big points on 8 of 12 shooting from downtown. Deguara was a rock for the men in orange with 15 points, 17 rebounds, and five blocks.
“We had a good run this season but it ended badly,” said Singapore head coach Neo Beng Siang. “I thought we played well in both games and the games could have gone either way and I’m proud of my players, we just committed some silly mistakes in both games that cost us.”
Asked which team he thought would go all the way to the top, the Slingers’ head coach said it’s an even playing field between the remaining four teams.
“All of those teams can beat one another,” he said. “It will just depend on the effort they put into the game and how they follow their coach’s strategy.”
The Slingers season had several positives with local players Ng Han Bin and Delvin Goh posting career high seasons. Both double their best ever season averages. The Slingers local players played major minutes again this season.
Chris Charles who joined the team during the Christmas break ended the season as the ABL leading rebounder and Shot Blocker.
Singapore Slingers Stats Leaders for 2017-18 ABL Season
Xavier Alexander: 24ppg, 9.2rpg & 7.4apg
Christein Charles: 22.8ppg, 16.3rpg, 2.9apg & 2.9bpg
AJ Mandani: 10.8ppg, 3.8rpg & 2.5apg (38% 3point shots)
Delvin Goh: 8.4ppg, 5.0rpg & 1.7apg (23.5 mpg)
Ng Han Bin: 8.3ppg, 3.1rpg & 1.1apg (24.9 mpg)
Larry Liew: 5.5ppg, 2.8rpg & 1.6apg (25.2 mpg)
Russel Low: 4.9ppg, 2.3rpg (15.2 mpg)
PPG – Points Per Game
RPG – Rebounds Per Game
APG – Assists Per Game
BPG – Blocks Per Game
MPG – Minutes Per Game