By Marcus ChhanFollow @@MarcusChhan
The Beermen recorded their sixth straight win on Sunday at the Singapore Indoor Stadium to go 9-3 for the season and tie with the defending champions Indonesia Warriors, who are also at 9-3 but trail 2-1 in their season series with the Filipinos.
San Miguel point-guard Chris Banchero led the way with 19 points and six assists for the visitors while 17 points, 11 rebounds and four blocks from Slingers' centre Rashaad Singleton were not enough for the Singaporeans to snap a five game losing skid.
The Slingers definitely started like a team desperate for a win. From the opening tip they showed plenty of hunger and a determination not to get blown off the court early by the in-form Beermen. Singleton won the tip and on that possession Rashad Jones-Jennings (10 points and 16 rebounds) finished with a short jump hook in the paint.
And after Banchero replied with his first two of six solid points in the quarter, new Singapore signing Phil Morrison (14 points) made a short pull-up jumper.
But the Beermen have so many weapons and if they are not hurting you in transition their shooters certainly can kill you on set plays as two consecutive treys, first by Ryan Joseph Rizada and then Leo Avenido, made it 4-8.
The Slingers hit back with Singleton nailing a nice bank shot in Brian William's face to make 10-12 with 4:46 left in the opening period which forced Beermen coach Leo Austria to call time out.
From the huddle, the Beermen went on a 12-2 run with B. Williams adding five points including draining a wide open three to end the quarter with his team 24-12 on top.
Neo Beng Siang's Slingers started the second quarter as expected. With hardnose defence highlighted by a volleyball-styled block by Singleton on Banchero which sent the ball into the corporate boxes.
However, the Slingers were perhaps feeling the strain of having played in Malaysia on Friday and they weren't moving to the Beermen shooters effectively enough allowing the Filipinos to continue to hurt them from outside.
At the half, the Beermen were shooting an impressive 6/9 from beyond the arc with Avenido making his second of the game at that point to end the period 22-37 in favour of the visitors.
A scrappy third quarter began with Banchero tagged with a technical foul for apparently throwing the ball out of bounds after being called for a travel at midcourt. The ball did reach the other end of the floor but Banchero could hardly be accused of throwing it in a fit of rage.
Morrison split the technical free-throws and shortly after nailed a long jump shot to put the Slingers to within 13 points.
Banchero then sparked a run for the Beermen midway through the third quarter. The Fil-Italian guard scored six straight points, followed by a lay-up from Rizada and a one handed shot from Asi Taulava, giving the Beermen a 52-32 lead with 2:40 left in the third quarter.
Into the final period and Singapore had it all to do as Banchero made an open lay-up on a fast-break and then Justin Williams scored in the lane to push out the lead to over 20 points.
But the home team would somehow find a way to come back into the match helped by a three from Desmond Oh, a turnaround jump shot from Morrison, and a sweet baseline fade away from Singleton midway through the fourth quarter.
With 2:33 on the clock, the Slingers were able to get within eight points after Morrison made a three point shot and Jun Cabatu followed with a two-point shot. Mitchell Folkoff had a chance to get his team within five on their next possesion, but he was unable to knock down his three-point shot.
The Slingers simply ran out of time to complete their comeback.
With this 68-61 loss, the Slingers are now on fifth position with a record of 4 wins and 9 losses.
The Slingers will finish off their month hosting the Saigon Heat next Sunday the 31st of March at the Singapore Indoor Stadium for the 4pm local/HKT tip-off.
They will then get a chance for payback as they Slingers and Beermen will battle each other again in at Ynares Sports Arena, Manila on Saturday, April 6th for the 4pm local/HKT tip-off.
Quarter scoring: Q1(12-24) Q2(10-13) Q3(15-20) Q4(24-11)
Full-Time: Slingers 61-68 Beermen
Slingers: Singleton - 17, Morrison - 14, Cabatu - 10, Jones-Jennings - 10, Oh - 6, Wei Long - 2, Wu -2.
Beermen: Banchero - 19, B. Williams - 11, Avenido - 10, Rizada - 9, J. Williams - 6, Cawaling - 5, Taulava - 5, Acuna - 3.