It took all 40 minutes for the BTN CLS Knights Indonesia to overcome the Singapore Slingers on the road to win their first ASEAN Basketball League (ABL) title.
After forcing a Game 5 showdown in convincing fashion on their home floor last Saturday, the Knights seemed sluggish at the start in Game 5, but made shots when it mattered to complete the title-clinching win.
Looking to finally win their first title after two previous unsuccessful tries, Singapore immediately took a 12-2 lead within the first three minutes, seven of which were scored by local big man Delvin Goh.
However, Brandon Jawato helped spark a 14-2 Knights run that was capped off by three consecutive three-pointers from Douglas Herring and Wong Wei Long which gave them their first lead. Both sides continued to go back-and-forth before the home team closed the opening quarter with a slim 27-23 edge.
The Slingers threatened to pull away on multiple occasions, but the Knights were able to stay within striking distance as they closed the first half just four points behind, despite many missed opportunities on offense.
Singapore extended its lead to as much as 10 points before Darryl Watkins hit a buzzer-beating three at the end of the third period.
After trailing by more than five points for most of the quarter, a layup from Maxie Esho at the 3:29 mark cut the Knights’ deficit down to three, 79-76.
Back-to-back three’s from Esho and Wong Wei Long gave the Knights an 82-79 lead with 53.2 seconds remaining
Alexander quickly answered back with a dunk, and after two misses from either side, the home team was forced to foul with 11 seconds remaining.
As Douglas Herring calmly made two free throws, Singapore’s Jerran Young missed a potential game-tying three as time expired, 84-81.
Maxie Esho, who was later named Finals MVP, finished with 25 points and eight rebounds, and had plenty of help from his teammates as fellow imports Douglas Herring and Darryl Watkins added a combined 35 points, while Brandon Jawato stepped up with 16 points and three steals.
Reigning Import MVP Xavier Alexander led the Slingers with a triple-double of 23 points, 12 rebounds, and 10 assists. Jerran Young added 20 points of his own to go with nine boards. Delvin Goh also shone with 19 points and 11 rebounds.
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