After splitting the first two games at home, the Slingers successfully laid siege to the Knights’ fortress in Game Three, putting them within one victory away from winning the first ASEAN Basketball League (ABL) championship in franchise history.
The Singapore-based squad know how hard it is to steal a win in Surabaya, let alone going back-to-back against one of the league’s best home teams and in front of their loud and hostile fans. The Knights are 14-4 at home thus far this season, but two of those losses came at the hands of the Slingers.
Slingers import John Fields, who is currently averaging a double-double of 16.7 points and 13.0 rebounds per outing in the Finals, is excited at the prospect of closing it out on the road.
“It feels good, but we have to complete the task. Game Four is going to be even harder than Game Three,” Fields said of the Slingers, who are back in position to win the title for the first time since making back-to-back Finals appearances between 2015-17.
“The team morale is great right now because everybody is focused and locked in, because we are only one game away from completing the task.”
A photo of a Knights fan holding up a sign that read “RIP John Fields 1988-2019” in the third game has circulated around social media, drawing criticism from both Slingers supporters and third-party fans. Fields’ own social media account has also been bombarded with negative comments, but the import is taking the high road, choosing to brush them off.
“It’s okay. We want to play in front of a lot of people on the road who don’t like you. I really get up for games like that,” responded Fields, who himself has never shied away from celebrating and jawing with opposing fans on the road.
Fields was also the target of fans’ ire earlier in the playoffs, after going back-and-forth with Hong Kong Eastern fans in game two of the semifinals. After helping the Slingers sweep the home team, the 30-year-old big man had to be escorted to the team bus by arena security to protect him against many of Eastern’s fuming supporters.
“It’s kind of bad to wish death on anybody. Sometimes fans can cross the line,” expressed Fields. “But we have to keep in focus since we are still playing a game over here, and I understand that CLS has a very passionate fan base also.”
Having denied taking any negative fan interaction personal, the 6-foot-9 center has a short but concise message for their own fanbase, who are surely hoping for the team to close out the championship series on Saturday.
“Slingers fans, we are gonna do whatever it takes to win that championship.”
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