A massive upset in the making, heroic performances and controversial finishes defined the matchup between the Singapore Slingers and the Pilipinas MX3 Kings. But when all was said and done, the Slingers won a nail biter in overtime, with a 63-57 victory against the Kings.
The game was a nail biter in the 2nd half. The first half of basketball was a defensive slugfest, with both teams unable to get any scoring. The Kings raced out to an 18-11 lead affter one quarter. The Kings employed an excellent strategy in the first half that limited Slingers imports Justin Howard and Xavier Alexander to single digit scoring. The Kings packed the paint, daring Alexander to shoot. Nakiea Miller played excellent defense on Howard, frustrating the big man into difficult shots. On the other side, Arizona Reid led the way with nine points in the first half, maintaining control of the game, 24-19.
With nothing going the Slingers way in the third quarter, a hero emerged to keep things close for the Singapore squad. Local player Wu Qingde went absolutely super nova in the 3rd quarter, nailing five triples in the quarter. The Slingers went to their outside shooting to free up the defense in the paint. With the Kings still opting to retain their focus on Howard and Alexander, Qingde had the greenlight to fire away at will, to the delight of the crowd at the OCBC Arena. The highlight of the quarter was his final trey that beat the buzzer, sending the game to the final quarter tied at 40-40.
The fourth quarter was a back and forth affair, which the Slingers able to finally grab the lead. They threatened to pull away leading the Kings 52-46 with 3:27 to play. However the Philippine-based squad showed heart and grit, as they chipped away at the lead. They went to veteran Willie Miller in the post and AZ Reid stepped up to hit crucial baskets.
The stage was set for an incredible finish in the last two minutes. Nakiea Miller made the go ahead basket to put the Kings up 53-52, with 45 seconds remaining. In the next play, Alexander was fouled by Nico Elorde, putting the Slingers import at the charity stripe. He missed both free throws, however Howard was able to grab the offensive rebound, and was fouled which sent him to the line as well. He proceeded to make both free throws giving the Slingers a 54-53 lead, which left the Kings five seconds left to score a basket.
On the final possession of the Kings, Elorde threw up a hail mary shot from beyond the three point line that banked in and fell through the net, giving the Kings a 56-54 lead and stunning the home crowd. However the Slingers had 1.8 seconds left on the shot clock.
With one last chance to tie or win the game, they went to import Kris Rosales, who took a dribble, pump faked and launched a rainbow that fell through the net. While he celebrated with his teammates, the Kings were up in arms demanding for a replay of the final possession. However the referees determined that Rosales was able to put up the shot in time, sending the game to overtime, 56-56, to the delight of the Slingers fans and disappoint of the Philippine squad.
In overtime, a dejected Kings squad were barely able to put up a fight, as the Slingers took advantage of the momentum and feasted inside the paint. Howard finally got going, and Alexander was also able to penetrate down the middle. Finally the buzzer sounded, and the Slingers continued their impressive winning run, firming up their grip on first place.
Wu topscored for the Slingers, scoring 21 points on five made treys. Howard had another double double, scoring 17 points to go along with 27 rebounds. For the Kings, Reid led the way with 24 points and 14 rebounds.