They may have been knocked off their perch, but the Singapore Slingers are determined to end their Asean Basketball League regular season on a high.
The Republic's only professional basketball team remain second in the six-team competition following a comfortable 93-74 win over fifth-placed Mono Vampire Basketball Club at Mono Stadium in Bangkok yesterday. It was their penultimate game of the 20-match season.
Save for a brief fightback by the Thai team at the start of the third quarter, the Slingers never looked like losing, their lead bolstered by Xavier Alexander's three dunks in about 30 seconds in the fourth quarter.
He led all scorers with 28 points. Wong Wei Long and Justin Howard contributed 14 points apiece to the Slingers' cause, while Anthony McClain was Mono's top scorer with 19 points.
The win takes the Slingers' win-loss record to 15-4, identical to league-leading Malaysia Dragons, although the latter boast a better head-to-head record. The Singapore side had conceded top spot after losing to their rivals last Sunday.
They will round off their campaign tomorrow with a home game against fourth-placed Saigon Heat, while the Dragons host bottom team Pilipinas MX3 Kings.
Though the Slingers can still finish top if they win and the Dragons lose, assistant coach Michael Johnson is looking only at things within his team's control.
He said: "Winning is a habit; as you can see on our last run we won 10 in a row. Going into the play-offs with a winning run will help with momentum."
As things stand, the Slingers will face defending champions Hi-Tech Bangkok City (14-6), who lie in third place, in the semi-finals of the play-offs, while the Dragons will meet Saigon (9-10).
The Slingers' first play-off game is on Feb 28 at the OCBC Arena.