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Howard hits 45 as Singapore gets past Malaysia

By Ivan Saldajeno

SINGAPORE--Justin Howard sizzled for 45 points as Singapore walked away with an 88-85 win over Malaysia in Round 1 of their so-called ABL "Straits Cup" at the OCBC Arena on Friday night.

Howard easily found the target in the whole match, making 18 of 23 shots. He also tallied 12 rebounds and three blocks for Singapore, which have now won their last three games after dropping its opening night assignment against defending champion Hi-Tech Bangkok on Oct. 27.

“One thing about Justin is [that] he plays really, really hard so it makes up for all the mistakes that guys on our team makes,” said Howard's fellow Slinger Xavier Alexander, who also had a fine game against the Dragons with 20 points, 11 rebounds, and five assists.

“[Justin] ran the floor hard, so we asked him to keep on running. The first thing is to look inside for him because that’s our advantage on them,” Coach Ben Siang Neo revealed their game plan.

Calvin Godfrey fired 31 markers of his own for the Dragon, who lost for the first time this ABL season after two straight wins.

Both teams will meet again in Kuala Lumpur on Sunday, and the club which wins in aggregate scoring after the home-and-home set will be crowned the first Straits Cup champion.

Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno