Eastern mounts huge comeback to stun Singapore in battle of unbeaten ABL squads

By Ivan Saldajeno

QUEZON CITY—With Tyler Lamb hurt and Justin Howard imposing his will, the crowd at the Southorn Stadium in Hong Kong thought Singapore will cruise to a road rage.

A miracle happened.

A barrage of triples at the end of regulation and a go-ahead basket by Patrick Sullivan helped the Eastern Long Lions mount a comeback from 19 points down to stun the Slingers, 97-95, in a battle between the ABL's two remaining unbeaten clubs on Wednesday night.

Lamb injured his hand after the first quarter and never returned to the game, and his loss hounded Eastern early on as Singapore opened a 43-24 lead with 4:13 left before halftime.

The Lions, however, rallied gradually, coming to as close as three, 61-64, with 1:27 remaining in the third period.

The Slingers rebuilt a 78-61 cushion by closing the quarter on a 10-0 run and starting the fourth with back-to-back baskets. They would keep the Lions in check and maintained a 13-point advantage, 90-77, with 1:47 to go in regulation.

But Eastern fired four straight triples to help the team tie the game, 90-all, with 12 seconds left in the fourth.

Howard airballed a jump hook at the final buzzer, forcing the extra five minutes.

Both teams went scoreless for the first 2:05 of the extra period until Sullivan scored on a layup to put the Long Lions up, 92-90, capping a 15-0 run.

Xavier Alexander equalized with a lay-in with 1:50 left and forced an offensive foul ln Marcus Elliot, leading to another Howard shot that put the Slingers up, 94-92, with 1:30 to go.

Elliot made up for the turnover by nailing a quick three with 1:21 left to give Eastern the lead back, 95-94.

The Slingers missed on two chances to retake the lead, but the Lions failed to seal the win sooner as their foes' defense forced them to a three-pointer that they missed.

Alexander had a huge chance to give Singapore the lead with two free throws with 19 seconds left, but he only made a split and the game was tied, 95-all.

Sullivan then recovered the ball after a missed layup from Elliot and put it back in to put Eastern up, 97-95, with two seconds to go.

The defense then forced Mitchell Folkoff to a wild three-ball that he airballed as time expired, sending the crowd into frenzy.

Elliot came close to a triple-double by tallying 27 points, eight rebounds, and seven assists along with one steal, while Ki Lee added 19 points, one rebound, and two steals for the Long Lions, who moved up to 3-0.

Howard (39 points and 27 rebounds) and Alexander (17 and 13) played the full 45 minutes and tallied a double-double each for the Slingers, but Alexander committed 13 turnovers including crucial ones down the stretch.

Box Scores:

Eastern 97-Elliot 27, Lee 19, Sullivan 14, Guinchard 13, Chan 9, Lamb 9, Poon 6, Tang 0, Wu 0, Lau 0

Singapore 95-Howard 39, Wong 24, Alexander 17, Folkoff 8, Kwek 4, Ng 3, Oh 0, Austria 0, Lim 0

Quarterscores: 19-27, 40-50, 61-74, 90-90, 97-95

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