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Home championship dream dashed for Singapore Slingers

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A single minute was all that separated the Singapore Slingers from clinching their first-ever ASEAN Basketball League championship title.

The honour had twice slipped past them, first against the Westport Malaysia Dragons in 2016, and then to the Eastern Lions a year later in 2017.

abl finals game 5The Singapore Slingers could not hold on to their lead to lose the finals' series to CLS Knights 2-3. Photo: Sport Singapore

Stretching this year's series against the CLS Knights to Game 5 meant that they would play on home soil, in the OCBC Arena. The chance to lift the trophy in front of their families and friends would make the wait worth the while.

The Singapore Slingers had sustained their lead for the first three periods of the game and most of the final quarter, before they fell behind to a three-point throw from former Slinger Wong Wei Long's less than a minute from time.

There was hardly a supporter in their seat as the final moments of the match played out - even assistant coach and general manager of the Singapore Slingers Michael Johnson had his head in his hands. And who could blame him? Everything the team worked so hard for was crumbling before him. This was a team fighting for redemption, for glory, for a sign that all their pain and struggle was worth it. A team ten years in the making.

abl finals game 5The Slingers gave it their all but it wasn't to be. Photo: Sport Singapore

Donning their white home jerseys for the last time this season, Neo Beng Siang's men gave the CLS Knights everything. Alas, it went from honeymoon to heartbreak for the home team and their supporters, after the Slingers failed to deliver against the CLS Knights of Indonesia, falling to them with a score of 81-84.

"We just played good defence till the end, especially at the last five minutes. And we executed on the offence too. Our guys made some big shots, I put Wei Long in the game and he made the winning shot. That was poetic justice because he did it against Singapore," said CLS Knights head coach Brian Rowsom.

When I came in, I just wanted us to make the playoffs. But here we are as champions, and that's because these guys worked hard and they believed in me. I'm just so happy for Indonesia.