Slingers' Alexander steals show with rare triple-double
Swingman Alexander is fifth player in ABL history to record a triple-double
|SINGAPORE SLINGERS||KAOHSIUNG TRUTH|
He let out a primal yell when told of what he had achieved in the 84-76 win over Kaohsiung Truth at the OCBC Arena yesterday evening.
Beaming, Singapore Slingers swingman Xavier Alexander shouted: "Thank you, thank you God!"
Indeed, it looked like the basketball gods finally got on his side as most things the 28-year-old American touched turned to gold, as he ended the game with a tally of 15 points, 11 rebounds and 13 assists.
This made him only the fifth player in Asean Basketball League history to record a triple-double, as the Slingers confirmed their play-off semi-final spot behind leaders Hong Kong Eastern Long Lions.
"I'm not saying I was always looking for it, but it feels good, especially when we needed it most following two straight losses," said Alexander, who had gone close on previous occasions only to narrowly miss out in the assists column.
But, yesterday, the American was just the right man to tear apart the Truth's two-three zone defence.
The 1.98m-tall Alexander made the most of his supreme athleticism to drive into the paint before setting up his teammates for open shots.
He said: "I just wanted to make the opponents' defence collapse on me before I pass the ball out to my teammates.
"It's all about feeding them with confidence and I also have to thank them, because there would be no assists if they didn't make their shots.
That’s what we need from Xavier. He came close for many games last season, so I’m happy for him with his first triple-double with us.Singapore Slingers coach Neo Beng Siang on swingman Xavier Alexander
"We have a great relationship on and off the court, and the recent losses really humbled us and brought us closer together.
"We are definitely more focused on what our ultimate goal is now."
Four other Slingers scored double digits in points. Point guard Wong Wei Long grabbed a game-high 23 points, forward Leon Kwek had 13 while former NBA centre Luke Schenscher and forward Ng Hanbin contributed 12 each.
Slingers coach Neo Beng Siang said: "That's what we need from Xavier.
"He came close for many games last season, so I'm happy for him with his first triple-double with us."
While the Singapore side exacted a measure of revenge for the 79-75 away defeat by the same opponents last Sunday, they made life difficult for themselves by almost blowing a 14-point lead in the final quarter.
BACK WITH THE TEAM
The Truth capitalised on some poor Slingers defending to go on a 12-1 run deep into the period to narrow the gap to 73-70, but the hosts managed to snap out of their slumber in time to record their 11th win in 16 games.
Neo said: "I'm definitely happy with the win, but disappointed with the performance when we lost our comfortable lead.
"The first half was good because we executed what we wanted. We were energetic and not sloppy. In the second half, we didn't play as a group and our communication was not good.
"But we got the win we wanted and we must build on this.
"It's good that we have centre Delvin Goh and guard Larry Liew with us for our next three home games.
"We want to thank the fans for their support, as well as Luke for helping us with these two games on such short notice while Justin Howard is injured.
"We look forward to having Justin back for the rest of the regular season and the play-offs."
The Slingers' next match is against fourth-placed Saigon Heat at the OCBC Arena on Sunday.