Defeat for the Slingers in their final home game to Indonesia Warriors meant they missed out on the much coveted 4th playoff spot (photo by Kesavan Loganathan/VOXSPORTS).
In the blink of an eye, the 2013 ASEAN Basketball League has come to an end with one final match left to be played between the Singapore Slingers and Indonesia Warriors. The table was more or less set in its ways, with the top 3 spots to the play-offs all but settled. Leading the pack with 18 wins in the league and only 3 losses, was San Miguel Beermen with 86 pct. Coming in second was the Indonesia Warriors with 73 pct, with 15 wins in the bag. The remaining 2 play-off spots went to the West Sports Malaysia team and the Sports Rev Thailand Slammers with the Singapore Slingers needing a good result in their game at hand to challenge for the 4th spot.
The San Miguel Beermen deserved top spot fully as they had been on unstoppable form in the past few months, having gone on an unbeaten run since March. Winning their games both at home and away with much ease, they recovered from a slump in mid-February after losing several back-to-back games. Much of their success was also owed to a strong defence as their team was home to Justin Williams, the player who has the highest blocking percentage in the league.
The Indonesia Warriors were having a good season as well sitting in 2nd place having won 15 games and seemed destined for the play-offs. Having performed consistently throughout the season, the end was to be a walk in the park for the Warriors as they had clocked enough wins on the table to have a commanding lead over the third-placed side. One of their most consistent performers and prized assets would have to be Steven Thomas, the top 3-points shooter in the league.
The real nail-biter was the point’s battle between the Singapore Slingers and Sports Rev Thailand Slammers. The Singapore Slingers, having had a lack-lustre season, were sitting in 5th place with only 7 wins, prior to the game with the Indonesia Warriors. Being just a point behind the Slammers gave them an outside chance of qualifying for the play-offs if they were to secure a win over the Warriors. They also had to hope that the Slammers would slip up in the match against Saigon Heat, which would see the Slingers grab the 4th spot.
Based on the importance placed on the match with the Warriors, it was a night of raw emotion and physical grit for the Singapore Slingers as they relished for a miracle that would see them qualify for the play-offs at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.
Throngs of Slingers fans came down to get behind their team for the final game of the campaign as the Slingers came to end the season on a high. Previously, the Warriors had won the reverse fixture that was played in Indonesia convincingly as they clocked a 64-39 points tally with the Slinger’s shooting letting them down in that game.
The first quarter started with great intensity as both sides clocked early fouls and free throws. However, it was the Warriors that were taking the points home with accurate shooting as the Slingers couldn’t make their chances count early using the free throws.
Singleton Donald, number 21 of the Slingers was looking sharp as he carried the team on his back – having netted 4 points and doing well defensively, he collected 3 rebounds, the highest within the team in the first quarter. Another player playing his part in defence was Rashad Jones-Jennings, putting in good blocks and collecting a steady number of rebounds.
The second quarter was when things got out of hand for the Slingers as the points gap was stretched by the Warriors because of the unnecessary fouls conceded. The Warriors managed to net 5 of these free throws giving them an undesirable advantage against the Slingers. An injury to Jones-Jennings did not help the Slingers much as well; the player picked up what looked like a hamstring injury.
Halftime SportCares Guest Match
As both teams retreated to the locker room during half-time, the usual break period was graced by a short guest match played by boys from SportCares, an initiative that is part of the Vision 2030 to use sports as a force to encourage social good. It was a heartwarming moment as the match was played to give the boys a chance to shine in front of a large crowd, who in turn, did their best to cheer the teams on. Although it was a short match-up between the teams, it showed that sport could serve as a platform for these boys to turn their lives around.
The end of the half-time guest match marked the beginning of the third quarter of the game. With the home support cheering them on, the Slingers nearly completed a great escape as they arguably played their best game during the this quarter with key players such as Morrison Phillips and Singleton really putting a good shift in.
Warriors were not an easy side to beat as they shored their defence up, only allowing the Slingers to score 12 points in the final quarter. The Slingers looked clearly exhausted and there just wasn’t enough time on the clock for them to complete a turnaround as the buzzer signalled another defeat at the hands of the high-flying Indonesia Warriors, with a final score of 53-63.
Final score: Singapore Slingers 53 – 63 Indonesia Warriors