Singapore Slingers' Xavier Alexander (R) in action during the match. Photo by Sport Singapore
In a match beset by controversy, the Singapore Slingers edged out the Pilipinas MX3 Kings 63-57 in overtime during their ASEAN Basketball League game in the OCBC Arena, Singapore.
The Kings had the better of the Slingers in the first quarter as they raced to a 18-11 lead. The Kings' game plan was simple, press hard in the paint to limit the Slingers imports Justin Howard and Xavier Alexander to making hard shots.
On the offensive end, Kings' Arizona Reid made life difficult for Alexander with his physical game play and notched nine points as the Kings led the Slingers 24-19 in the first half.
Singapore Slingers' Wu Qingde (R) in action during the match. Photo by Sport Singapore
The Kings' defensive game seemed to be working but in the second half they were in for a rude awakening as Slingers' Wu Qingde burned it up from behind the arc with five triples in the third quarter. The teams ended the third all square at 40 points a piece.
The final quarter was a back and forth affair with the Slingers leading 52-46 at the start. But their nerves started to show as the experienced Kings team chipped away at the lead with Willie Miller and Arizona Reid hitting crucial baskets.
With 45 seconds remaining, Reid put the Kings ahead by a point but in the next play Slingers' Alexander Xavier was fouled. Xavier missed both free throws but Justin Howard grabbed the offensive rebound and was fouled as well. Howard made no mistake from the line to give the Slingers a slim 54-53 lead.
But the drama wasn't over yet. In the next possession, the Kings' Nico Elorde threw up a shot from behind the arc that seemed to hang in the air forever before gently brushing the net to give the Kings an improbable 56-54 lead.
Singapore Slingers celebrates after a nail biting overtime. Photo by Sport Singapore
The Kings were already celebrating as they moved into their opponent's half for the last 1.8 seconds of the game. The ball was passed to Slingers' Kris Rosales who seemed intent on driving to the basket only to pump fake and send his shot arcing into the net.
The OCBC Arena erupted as the Slingers took the game to overtime with a tied score of 56-56. The Kings bench swarmed the officials table to protest the point but with his shot, Rosales had taken the wind out of the Kings' crusade.
The Slingers took control in overtime and closed out the game with Howard and Alexander finally getting space in the paint.
With the win, the Slingers extended their streak to seven games and will take on last year's winners Hi-Tech Bangkok City on the 17th of January.
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