Slingers fall in double O.T.

Singapore Slingers centre John Fields trying to score despite the close attention of two Hong Kong Eastern players in their Asean Basketball League match at the OCBC Arena last night.
Singapore Slingers centre John Fields trying to score despite the close attention of two Hong Kong Eastern players in their Asean Basketball League match at the OCBC Arena last night.ST PHOTO: JONATHAN CHOO

They pay the price for throwing away six-point lead in 4th quarter and foul trouble to key players

Twice, the Singapore Slingers rescued the game in the very last second. But, after forcing Hong Kong Eastern into double overtime in yesterday's Asean Basketball League (ABL) encounter, Neo Beng Siang's men ran out of steam to lose 92-89.

With that defeat, the Slingers' five-game winning streak came to an end before 2,000 fans at the OCBC Arena, in an outing littered with a total of 58 fouls.

"We didn't lose to the opponents, we lost to ourselves," said Slingers coach Neo Beng Siang.

"We led by six points (in the fourth period), but we didn't take full advantage of that.

"Later, we had two chances and forced the game to overtime and these were precious opportunities which we could not make use of.

"We now have a long journey to the Philippines and we need to cool down and analyse before deciding how to approach the next game."

It marked another frustrating encounter for the Singapore team, who lost the 2017 ABL Final to the same opponents on home soil.

It was Eastern who looked stronger in the opening exchanges as the visitors enjoyed a comfortable 33-26 lead at the end of the second period.

But the Slingers hit back in the third period as forward Xavier Alexander, who chipped in with 25 points, gave the home side a 50-49 lead.

Four periods of end-to-end play boiled down to that final second of play. Forward Delvin Goh staged the first rescue act by sinking one free throw to make it 68-68 to send the game into the first five-minute period of overtime.

Eastern looked certain to seal victory but, in the final second, guard Lim Jun Yuan was fouled. He scored with his second free throw to level the game again at 81-81 and add another five minutes of play.

But the visitors, powered by dynamic guard Jon Siu and centre Eric Ferguson, who netted a game high of 27 points, grabbed victory as five Slingers fouled out, leaving their bench unable to cope with Eastern's pace and precision.

However, there were also crumbs of comfort for the Slingers as Goh, Alexander and centre John Fields, who earned thunderous applause for an emphatic block on 2.29m Maltese Samuel Deguara in the third period, impressed.

The team left the arena immediately after the game to catch a 12.05am flight to the Philippines, where the Slingers will meet the Alab Pilipinas tomorrow.

Wang Meng Meng

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 22, 2018, with the headline 'Slingers fall in double O.T.'. Print Edition | Subscribe