KUALA LUMPUR -The Singapore Slingers stunned the Westports Malaysia Dragons on their home court, 84-80, on Friday night to take Game One of the 2015-2016 AirAsia-Asean Basketball League finals.
Kris Rosales finished with 13 points and put the defensive clamps on fellow Fil-foreigner Matthew Wright to help lead the Slingers to take a 1-0 lead in the best-of-five title series.
Xavier Allen Alexander had 27 points and 15 rebounds, while fellow import Justin Howard added 24 markers and 11 boards for the Slingers, who began the fourth quarter with a 13-3 run that shifted the momentum on their side as they grabbed a 77-69 lead.
Wright finished with 22 points, but 20 of which came in the first half as he struggled in the final two quarters when Rosales took on him on the defensive end.
But the Slingers still needed a crucial basket by Rosales, whose jumper in the final 45 seconds gave the Slingers an 81-77 lead.
“First half, he got 20 on us,” said Singapore Slingers coach Neo Beng Siang, referring to Wright, the highly-touted Fil-Canadian. “Second half, we really shut him down. That’s our game plan. We came out and play great defense on him.”
Game Two will be on Sunday afternoon also at the MABA Stadium here, with the Slingers looking for a 2-0 lead before the series shifts to Singapore for Game Three.
The Dragons lost a 13-point third-quarter lead which they had from the get-go after racing to a 9-2 lead that began with a four-point play by Wright.
But the Slingers made their way back little by little and were only down by two, 64-66, at the end of the third period.
The Slingers now have the homecourt advantage as Games Three and Four will be played at the OCBC Arena next week.
Singapore Slingers (84) -- Alexander 27, Howard 24, Rosales 13, Wei Long 9, Qingde 8, Desmond Oh 3, Kwek 0, Goh 0.
Westports Malaysia Dragons (80) --Wright 22, Johnson 20, Brickman 17, Ma 5, Shee Fai 3, Kuek 3, Yeo 0, Wong Yi 0, Kwaan 0.
Quarterscores: 14-23; 38-49; 64-66; 84-80.