The heroes and villains of the Asean Basketball League (ABL) switched roles yesterday as the Singapore Slingers travelled across the Causeway for the second leg of the Straits Cup derby against the Kuala Lumpur Dragons at the Maba Stadium.
After the Dragons' 79-68 victory at the OCBC Arena on Friday, the rematch kept spectators on the edge of their seats before the Slingers eventually edged out the home side 88-87 in overtime after a see-saw battle.
Despite the home ground loss, the Dragons had the consolation of lifting the Straits Cup - an annual Causeway double-header which the Slingers have won in the last three seasons - on points difference.
The hosts had looked on track for a sweep, with Cade Davis on fire as the forward made nine out of 14 three-point attempts en route to a game-high 37 points.
But after tying the game at 76-76 with his final trey, the 31-year-old American missed a floater to win the game in regulation time, before fouling out with 2.3 seconds left in overtime when his team needed his hot shooting most.
Slingers talisman Xavier Alexander also had a roller-coaster end to the game despite yet another triple-double of 27 points, 17 rebounds and 10 assists.
Having made most of the big plays - he was fouled a game-high 10 points - and converting six out of seven free throws, the American missed all of his six free throws in overtime.
It was left to Slingers centre Anthony McClain (14 points, 17 rebounds), who shrugged off a foot injury, to settle the score. With just 0.9sec left in the extra period, the 2.14-metre American reacted quickest to tip in Alexander's missed free throw for the one-point win.
Slingers coach Neo Beng Siang paid tribute to his team, saying: "We are pleased with this battling win today after the poor performance on Friday.
"We knew Davis' threat but we over-helped in our zone defence and left him open on many occasions. Still, we didn't let our heads down even with his big scoring. Everyone showed good energy and effort.
"Even though he is injured, Biggie (McClain) is mentally strong and told us he can manage. He showed at the end how much he wanted it.
0.9s There was less than a second when Anthony McClain tipped in the final basket for the Slingers' win.
"Our locals also contributed but they have to be consistent and not just have one good game and disappear in the next."
There were early signs this was going to be a keenly contested affair when Amir Bell's stray elbow left Delvin Goh with a bloodied brow less than three minutes in.
The Dragons got off to a good start and led 24-18 after Davis made his first triple at the start of the second quarter. But Goh (15 points, 10 rebounds) returned to the court with a vengeance as the Slingers fought back to lead 38-35 at the break.
Davis scored 15 points in the next period to overturn the deficit to a 62-58 advantage but the Slingers turned on their defence to go up 70-62 in the fourth period as Marcus Elliott (20 points, 11 rebounds) came alive.
While he fouled out with 1:36 left after a contentious clash with Bell to give the Dragons a way back into the game, the Slingers would eventually prevail.
Goh said: "Our fans deserve better so we really wanted to win this away to avenge Friday's loss. We talked things through at training (on Saturday) so we can all be on the same page and cut down our mistakes.
"We can still improve on today's performance, but the way we won shows our tough character."
With the victory, the Slingers are tied with Macau Black Bears and the Dragons in fifth place with seven wins and seven losses apiece. They will travel to Thailand to play leaders Mono Vampire (11-4) on Wednesday.