Slingers survive the heat to seal fifth straight win
The Singapore Slingers were leading 77-69 with half a minute left, when their centre John Fields got hit with a technical foul.
As it was his fifth violation, it also meant the American fouled out of the Asean Basketball League (ABL) match against Saigon Heat at the CIS Arena last night.
Those last 33 seconds must have seemed like an eternity as the Slingers committed a backcourt violation, and then turned the ball over for the Heat to make three baskets and narrow the gap to two points.
Fortunately for the Singaporean side, Xavier Alexander made a free-throw and Murphy Burnatowski missed a half-court three-pointer as the Slingers survived the late onslaught to win 78-75 for a fifth consecutive ABL victory.
Slingers coach Neo Beng Siang was at a loss to explain just how his team have managed to burst out of the blocks - they have built first-quarter leads of more than 10 points in all their wins so far - only to finish the game sloppily.
He told The Straits Times: "We need to just play our own game and keep our cool because the turnovers nearly cost us.
"On my end, I can sub the players out to calm them down, but once they are on the court, they have to be smart about the referees' calls."
There were positives though, as the Slingers improved to 5-1, behind defending champions Alab Pilipinas (2-0), who prevailed 88-80 in overtime at CLS Knights Indonesia, and Formosa Dreamers (6-1), who lost 89-74 at Mono Vampire on Saturday.
Showing he has truly settled into the Slingers system, athletic swingman Jerran Young posted his second straight game-high of 27 points, plus seven rebounds.
Fellow American Alexander contributed 18 points, five rebounds and four steals, while Fields had 11 points and 13 rebounds.
Local cager Delvin Goh improved on his previous showing with 15 points and nine rebounds, as Neo called for more consistency.
He added: "I'm happy we managed to start well and get another win, but even though it is tough, we need to try and maintain our intensity and defence throughout all four quarters."
The Slingers will play 2016/17 champions Hong Kong Eastern at the OCBC Arena on Friday before travelling to Alab on Sunday.