Header Ads Widget

Singapore crashes to Malaysia's homecoming with huge win

By Ivan Saldajeno

PUERTO PRINCESA—The defending ABL champion Malaysia was finally home on Friday night.

But Singapore continued to prove its time has come.

The Slingers played spoilers to the Dragons' first game at their new war zone, the House of Champions in Selangor, with an 81-76 victory in the league's first game for 2017.

Singapore slowed Malaysia down in the final half-hour but still needed to sneak past a thriller to solidify its hold of the top spot in the standings.

The Dragons blitzed ahead in the first period, scoring 27 points and taking a six-point lead at the end of the quarter.

But the Slingers limited them to only 12 in the next 10 minutes and forced a 39-all deadlock at halftime.

They would go on to take the lead in the second half, but the Dragons stayed close and even reclaimed the lead at some points, setting up a down-the-wire finish.

Malaysia began losing steam in the last two minutes, and Singapore eventually opened a 77-71 cushion with 15.8 seconds left.

Marcus Melvin made things interesting with a quick triple with 13 seconds left that cut the lead to three, 77-74, but Leon Kwek iced the game with two free throws with 12 seconds remaining as both teams exchanged deuces in the end.

Justin Howard led the Slingers, who moved up to 6-1 and extended their lead over the Eastern Long Lions, who suffered their first loss of the season against them last month, for first place to a full game, with 26 points, 27 rebounds, one assist, four blocks, and two steals, while Kwek added 19 points, three assists, and one steal.

Skylar Spencer tallied 19 markers, 15 caroms, and one block for the Dragons, who slipped to 1-2.

As part of a special home-and-home set called the "Straits Cup", both Singapore and Malaysia will meet again on Sunday at the OCBC Arena in Singapore.

Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno