The Singapore Slingers took the first lef of the ‘Straits Cup’, defeating their long-time ASEAN Basketball League (ABL) rivals Westports Malaysia Dragons on the road, 87-76.
The Straits Cup is an annual weekend of two games between the neighboring teams, with the aggregate scores determining the winners. The Dragons won the inaugural edition in 2016, while the Slingers took the last two editions.
Chris Eversley sparked the Dragons’ early success, giving them an early five-point lead midway through the first after hitting a three. Unfortunately, two fouls called on Winston Shephard forced him to the bench early on in the game.
The Slingers then took advantage, grabbing the lead for good through a Jerran Young basket late in the first. Despite Shephard picking up his third foul early in the second quarter, the Dragons were relentless in keeping up with the visitors.
Singapore maintained their lead at five going into the halftime break, and the second half was just as close as both teams traded scoring runs. Yek Liang Chuan’s jumper kept the Dragons in the game, with the deficit only at four early in the fourth quarter.
Malaysia had no answer for the import duo of Xavier Alexander and John Fields, who were relentless in attacking the paint and led the Slingers to a 10-2 run, eliminating all hopes of a comeback for the Dragons.
The Slingers cruised to the 11 point victory with a John Fields exclamation dunk ensuring the visiting team picked up the victory after their 12 days break. They finished the game with 60 points in the paint as the Dragons struggled to contain the Slingers inside offense.
Xavier Alexander led the Slingers with 28 points, 12 rebounds and four assists. The 66 percent free throw shooter went against his season form, going perfect at the line for the night scoring 10 free throws. Fellow import John Fields had an equally impressive night with 28 points and 17 rebounds.
Nnanna Egwu’s season high 26 points and Winston Shephard’s double-double effort of22 points and 11 rebounds were not enough for the Dragons.
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