Singapore Slingers made a call for the fans to go to the Indoor Stadium on 1st February 2011 to support and rally the team in the must win clash against the Regular Season table toppers Thailand Slammers. Having lost in overtime against the Thais, a win for the Slingers was on the cards.
The Slingers started quickest off the block and any early nerves were immediately taken off when the Slingers raced to an early 5 point lead in the 1st Quarter. Led by American import Kyle Jeffers and Marcus Skinner, the Slingers were using their imports as the decoys while their ASEAN tag-team of Leo Avenido and Al-Vergara were sending shots into basket.
This strategy worked so well that despite only holding a point lead going into the 2nd Quarter, the Thais had no answers to the offence made by the Slingers. Rallied on by a strong home crowd – who were spotting yellow t-shirts distributed by the sponsers – the Slingers dominate the game on and off the court. Perhaps Dixon had dominated the game so much in the previous game, the Thais were practically depending on their Centre to deliver for them the rebounds and the points that got him so exhausted, he was ‘invisible’ going into the end of the 2nd Quarter.
The 2nd half started like the 1st half, and the Slingers put up a great defensive show with Desmond Oh locking Dixon, choking the livewire of the Thais. It does not matter that Piyaporn, Attapong and Santos got the odd shot in as the Slingers were converting shots into points. The dominance grew so much that at one juncture during the 3rd Quarter, the Slingers were 20 points ahead.
However, late in the 4th Quarter, a sudden lapse saw the lead dropped to 5, but after Leo got in a 3 pointer, there could only be one winner in this game. Perhaps it was fitting then that ASEAN import Al-Vergara got the final point of the game having been given the ball by his fellow Pinoy Leo.
“I am happy that we get the win. No lucky tonight but we still managed to win”, a modest Leo told us after the game. Leo was involved in a late 4Q fracas with Piyapong after the Thailand No. 13 pushed him off the court and into the tables. “Maybe he want me to be injured, I don’t know. But I am ready, the team is ready and we will beat them in their own court”. The anger in Leo’s tone was evident as he recalled the moment again in his memory.
Al-Vergara, who was pulled into the interview by Leo, attributed his good game to Leo. “Thanks to Leo who passed the ball. If not, I do not think I can score so many points today”. The Pinoy pairing of Leo and Al looked to peak at the right time, and if they can continue this form, who is to say that Slingers cannot be the Champions after such a performance against the 1st seed in the Playoffs.
The next game is in Thailand, on 6th February 2011, and the winner will go on to their very first Playoff Finals against the Philippines Patriots. Slingers, having come off the game with their biggest ever winning margin of 14 points in the Playoffs, would hope to finish off the Thais.
-photo courtesy to Max Nah –