The Macau Black Bears clawed their way back to an 80-78 victory at home over the Singapore Slingers in Game 2 of the ASEAN Basketball League (ABL) quarterfinals.
Most Valuable Player frontrunner Mikh McKinney won the game for the Macau Black Bears after hitting the game-winning floater with 0.8 seconds remaining on the clock, extending the series to a pivotal third meeting on Sunday.
The league’s best offensive team struggled early against the patented Slingers defense, but found a way to grind out the decision at the buzzer. After a close first half between the two squads, the Slingers entered the break leading by five, 37-32, behind a combined 21 points from imports Xavier Alexander and John Fields.
Macau continued to play catch-up in the second half and finally managed to take their first lead since the 8:39 mark of the second quarter, but was quickly reclaimed by the Slingers after a buzzer-beating layup from Alexander to end the third period, 60-59.
With their season on the line, the Black Bears never relented in the payoff period, even leading by two with a little over a minute remaining in the game, before Alexander scored an and-one to take back the lead.
McKinney quickly answered back with an up-and-under scoop layup with 42 seconds remaining, before Alexander split free throws to tie the game. With 25.7 seconds to go, Macau held for the final shot, allowing McKinney to hit the game-winner.
The Filipino-American McKinney bucked a slow start to finish with 25 points and 13 assists, and got just enough help from fellow imports Ryan Watkins and Dewarick Spencer, who each finished with 20 points of their own. Local forward Liu Zhihao also added nine points in the win.
Meanwhile, Xavier Alexander led all scorers with 27 points, while adding 12 rebounds and eight assists. Jerran Young and John Fields also finished with double-doubles while scoring 19 and 14 points, respectively, while veteran guard Desmond Oh added nine points off three made triples.
The series will go to a deciding third game at the OCBC Arena on April 7 as the Singapore Slingers look to advance with a win at home, while the Macau Black Bears aim to join two other lower seeded teams who have punched their tickets into the ABL semifinals.
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