Desmond Oh (R) of the Singapore Slingers shoots the ball against Westports Malaysia Dragon. Photo: Sport Singapore
After their sterling defense pushed them forward for a Game 1 victory, the Singapore Slingers were unable to replicate their performance in Game 2, as their 32 per cent shooting doomed them to a loss.
Back at home for Game 3, however, the Singaporeans were unable to capitalize on their home court advantage.
The home team went down to Westports Malaysia Dragons 72-90 in the best-of-five ASEAN Basketball League Finals series in the presence of a sell-out crowd and Ministers Grace Fu and Tan Chuan-Jin, who showed up in support of Singapore's only professional basketball club.
Throughout the season, neither team were able to record a double-digit margin win against each other. This was until Game 2, where the Malaysians dominated, winning by 16 points. The 18-point victory in Game 3 spells further bad news for the Slingers.
Xavier Alexander of the Singapore Slingers dunks the ball against Westports Malaysia Dragons. Photo: Sport Singapore
Now trailing 1-2, Game 4 has become a must-win for the Slingers.
“I’m disappointed with the loss, but we need to stay positive,” said head coach Neo Beng Siang.
“We have to more games to go and we have to take care of business on Sunday here. And after that, we’ll head to Kuala Lumpur and take the win there.
“We did it in Game 1, and I’m sure the boys will be able to do it again.”
Foul trouble plagued the home team all game, and Xavier Alexander was eventually forced to exit the game after fouling out with six minutes to play in the fourth quarter.
The Malaysians then took advantage and never looked back.
Dragons center Reginald Johnson was unstoppable in the paint, finishing with a game-high 34 points and 13 rebounds. Despite foul trouble, forward Calvin Godfrey also managed to add 21 points of his own.
Wu Qingde (L) of the Singapore Slingers breaks through the defense of Reginald Johnson of Westports Malaysia Dragon. Photo: Sport Singapore
For the Slingers, the usually sharp-shooting Wu Qingde managed only three of 10 from range in the game, but led with 19 points. Center Justin Howard was a non-factor on the offensive end, finishing with just five points on two of 15 shooting.
“I didn’t do anything on both ends of the floor and I’ll put this on my shoulders. I let the team down,” said an apologetic Howard.
On the team’s plan for the upcoming Game 4, Howard said, “While we’ll go back and look at the replays, I am sure that the team can come back stronger and bounce back from this loss.
“We know we’re capable of winning this and we’ll come out stronger.”
Game 4 will be played at 4pm on Sunday at the OCBC Arena.