In what was surprisingly one of the best games of the season so far, the Singapore Slingers managed to come out on top with a 108-104 victory against the last placed Wolf Warriors.
Throughout the game, the story was basically the same, everytime Zhuhai seemed to have cut the lead down, their opponents were able to widen the gap with runs. But the Wolf Warriors’ relentless effort were eventually rewarded with a run of their own and it could not come at a better time: the last five minutes of the game.
A dunk by Delvin Goh (14 points, nine rebounds) widened the lead to 88-79 for Slingers, before the Zhuhai-based club went on a 12-0 run to take a three-point with only 1:41 left in the game. Former LA Clipper Mike Taylor scored seven clutch points during this run for the Wolf Warriors.
A layup from John Fields and two free throws by Xavier Alexander reclaimed the lead for Singapore before another former NBA player Eddy Curry (19 points, eight rebounds) took it right back for the Chinese squad with a tip-in with only 12 seconds to play.
Then the drama got even better when Slingers were called for a technical foul and Taylor converted the only free throw for a two-point advantage.
With five seconds remaining, Slingers import Jerran Young, on another inefficient evening shooting-wise, made a questionable decision by throwing a prayer from halfcourt that did not even hit the rim. Fortunately, Alexander was right there for the offensive board and got fouled on a basket attempt.
The Alexander would make both charity shots to overtake former teammate Chris Charles as the second leading scorer in ABL history and most importantly, tied the game at 94-apiece and take it to overtime.
In OT, Wolf Warriors local Yan Xu gave the team some breathing room with a floater that gave them biggest lead of the game at 103-98 with under two minutes. But another 9-0 run from Singapore as well as two crucial missed free throws from Cris Shentu would break the hearts of Wolf Warriors and their fans once again.
Mike Taylor finished with 32 points, six rebounds and nine assists on 50% shooting but 11 times he gave the ball away contributed significantly to 31 Slingers points off turnovers. Reigning VBA Defensive Player of the Year Mike Bell also had an excellent game with 21 markers, 15 boards, five dimes and shot 69 percent from the floor.
Also recorded a double-double is Cai Chen with 15 points, 12 rebounds, five assists and four blocks while another local player Yan Xu added 10 points off the bench with perfect shooting.
For the Slingers, although Alexander and Young struggled from the field, they were both one rebound away from a triple double. Young recorded only 27 percent from the field (15 points, 12 assists), while Alexander was not much better with 7 made shots out of 18 attempts (38 percent) but his 11 successful FTs were invaluable (26 points, 11 assists).
John Fields had arguably his best ABL game so far to earn the Player of the game award. The former PBA import finished the competition with 36 points, nine rebounds, three steals and three blocks.
The visiting squad also got surprised production from bench player Tay Ding Loon (nine markers) who has made five three pointer on 50 percent from beyond the arc in the last two games.
With the win, Singapore improves to third on the standing with 7 wins and 4 losses, while Hong Kong Eastern dropped to sixth after being beaten by Alab Pilipinas. The Wolf Warriors remain at the bottom with one lone victory against 10 defeats.
Both teams will see action again on January 13th. Wolf Warriors will travel to Kualar Lumpur to take on the 7th seed Westport Malaysia Dragons (3-3) while Slingers will return home to face another struggling team, Mono Vampire Basketball Club.
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