Slingers sink to sixth after defeat
With both sets of players fighting tooth and nail, diving onto the floor to retrieve possession and at times crashing into the advertising boards, the Singapore Slingers looked as if they had done enough to finally get one over their bogey team Hong Kong Eastern last night.
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But, despite leading for the most of their Asean Basketball League match at the Southorn Stadium in Hong Kong, the Slingers lost 88-81 and fell to sixth in the 10-team standings with a 6-4 win-loss record.
The Slingers seemed to have dealt well with Eastern's familiar foes - 2.29m Samuel Deguara and talisman Marcus Elliott - restricting the centre and guard to just 17 and 22 points respectively.
But they didn't count on new guard O'Darien Bassett stepping up with 26 points, seven assists and four steals for Eastern, who had beaten the Slingers in the 2016/17 ABL Finals and edged them 92-89 after double overtime at the OCBC Arena last month.
Slingers coach Neo Beng Siang said: "Our defence was really bad, especially in the on-ball screens during which we got caught and let the opponents penetrate or take open jump shots."
The visitors had successfully overturned a seven-point first-quarter deficit, and led 67-62 early in the final period after a Tay Ding Loon three-pointer.
But, with Slingers centre John Fields struggling to convert, Bassett came alive in the last quarter with 15 points including three treys - his last with about a minute to go was the final dagger - to help Eastern (7-4) complete the double over the Slingers and leapfrog them into fourth place.
The Slingers will make the short trip from Hong Kong to China as they take on the Zhuhai Wolf Warriors tomorrow.