Basketball: Singapore Slingers survive late onslaught to beat Saigon Heat 78-75 for fifth straight win

Singapore Slingers forward Xavier Alexander (#15) driving against the Saigon Heat during their Asean Basketball League game on Dec 16, 2018.
Singapore Slingers forward Xavier Alexander (#15) driving against the Saigon Heat during their Asean Basketball League game on Dec 16, 2018.PHOTO: FACEBOOK/SINGAPORE SLINGERS

SINGAPORE - The Singapore Slingers were up 77-69 with half a minute left when their centre John Fields got hit with a technical foul.

As it was his fifth, it also meant the American fouled out of the Asean Basketball League (ABL) match against the Saigon Heat at the CIS Arena in Ho Chi Minh on Sunday (Dec 16).

Those last 33 seconds must have seemed like an eternity as the Slingers committed a backcourt violation, and then turned the ball over for the Heat to make three baskets and narrow the gap to two points.

Fortunately for the Singaporean side, Xavier Alexander made a free throw and the Heat's Murphy Burnatowski missed a half-court three-pointer as the Slingers survived the late onslaught to win 78-75 for their fifth consecutive ABL victory.

Slingers coach Neo Beng Siang was at a loss to explain just how his team have managed to burst out of the blocks - they had built first-quarter leads of more than 10 points in all their wins so far - only to finish the game sloppily.

He told The Straits Times: "We need to just play our own game and keep our cool because the turnovers nearly cost us.

"I can sub the players out to calm them down but, once they are on the court, they have to be smart about the referees' calls."

The Slingers improved to 5-1, behind defending champions Alab Pilipinas (2-0), who prevailed 88-80 in overtime at CLS Knights Indonesia, and Formosa Dreamers (6-1), who lost 89-74 at Mono Vampire on Saturday.

Athletic swingman Jerran Young posted his second straight game-high of 27 points, plus seven rebounds. Fellow American Xavier Alexander contributed 18 points, five rebounds and four steals, while Fields had 11 points and 13 rebounds.

Local cager Delvin Goh improved on his previous showing with 15 points and nine rebounds, as Neo called for more consistency.

He added: "I'm happy we managed to start well and get another win, but we need to try and maintain our intensity and defence throughout all four quarters."

The Slingers will play 2016/17 champions Hong Kong Eastern at the OCBC Arena on Friday (Dec 21) before travelling to Alab on Sunday (Dec 23).