Basketball: Slingers open ABL campaign with victory over Dragons

Singapore Slingers forward Leon Kwek (right) dribbling past Loh Shee Fai of the Westports Malaysia Dragons during the home team's 80-62 win at the OCBC Arena yesterday.
Singapore Slingers forward Leon Kwek (right) dribbling past Loh Shee Fai of the Westports Malaysia Dragons during the home team's 80-62 win at the OCBC Arena yesterday.PHOTO: THE NEW PAPER

Singapore Slingers forward Leon Kwek revived his fledgling career when he helped steer the hosts to a surprisingly comfortable 80-62 win over defending champions Westports Malaysia Dragons in their 2016/17 Asean Basketball League (ABL) season-opener at the OCBC Arena last night.

The 20-year-old Singaporean, who was sidelined for much of the last season with dengue fever, posted a career-high 20 points and six assists en route to his team's win.

The Slingers, who had lost 2-3 in the best-of-five ABL Finals series to the Dragons in March, had a total of 23 assists, while the visitors had six.

Although the Slingers had 16 turnovers to the Dragons' 14, they made 48 rebounds - 15 more than their rivals.

After a strong start from the Slingers to lead 18-11 after the first 10 minutes, the Dragons caught up, overcoming the seven-point deficit in the first 21/2 minutes of the next quarter to level the score.

The latter outscored their opponents 21-14 to end the first half tied at 32-32.

However, the Slingers exploded out of the blocks in the second half, going on a 12-1 tear to start the third quarter, in which they eventually outscored the Dragons 23-9 for a 55-41 lead at the end of the period.

Despite a late surge from the visitors in the last two minutes of the game, the Slingers were able to maintain a comfortable fourth- quarter lead to send their supporters home happy.

They will play their next game tomorrow against Alab Pilipinas of the Philippines at the Alonte Sports Arena in Binan, Laguna.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 26, 2016, with the headline 'Slingers open ABL campaign with victory over Dragons'. Print Edition | Subscribe