ABL: Dragons leave Slingers in jeopardy

Malaysia Dragons rookie Julius Armon drove a dagger into the Singapore Slingers' Playoff hopes with 26 points in an 82-72 win.

ABL News: Lim Sheng Yu, Singapore Slingers
Marcus Chhan

By Marcus Chhan

The Slingers needed to beat the visiting Dragons on Sunday to avoid having to win both their remaining games against defending ASEAN Basketball League (ABL) champions Indonesia Warriors to stand a realistic chance of making the post-season ahead of the Sports Rev Thailand Slammers.

The 23-year-old Armon had other ideas and lit up the Singaporeans for 10 points in the first quarter alone to leave the Singapore Indoor Stadium crowd stunned as their team fell behind by 23 points in the opening period.

The Dragons came out hot with Armon knocking down a corner three before Gavin Edwards' one-handed jam and another bucket from the Fil-Am recruit made it 9-0 to the Malaysians inside three minutes.

Dragons import Marcus Hubbard was also ‘feeling it' early with two three pointers in the period on his way to scoring 13 points and collecting seven rebounds on the day.

As in the Slingers' last home game - a demoralising 24-point loss to Thailand - Neo Beng Siang's starting five came out flat and they were quickly put to the sword as the Dragons caught fire hitting 13/16 (81%) of their shots from the field to lead 33-10 heading into the second quarter.

The Dragons did cool down a little in the second period but the Slingers failed to take full advantage with a woeful shooting display of 7/34 (21%) from the floor.

Both teams started trading baskets and the Malaysians went into the half-time break with a very healthy 43-22 lead although the athleticism and determination of Rashad Jones-Jennings (16 points, 23 rebounds) and the scoring ability off the dribble of Phil Morrison (20 points, eight rebounds) hinted at a Singaporean comeback.

But it was local Slinger Lim Sheng Yu who also rose to the occasion by scoring 14 of his 19 points in the second half to keep things interesting.

And when Morrison made good on a fast-break lay-up the Dragons were only ahead 70-56 with 5:55 still to play in the fourth.

It became an 11-point game when Rashaad Singleton (11 points, 11 rebounds) blocked a dunk from Hubbard to allow Jun Cabatu to knock down a triple in transition.

Then, Lim went off glass to make the deficit 65-74 with 3:28 to go.

Armon thought he had nailed a killer three-point shot with just over two minutes left in the game but the Slingers responded with five quick points from Morrison and the lead whittled down further to seven points with under a minute to go.

Jones-Jennings then got the Singapore Indoor Stadium crowd rocking after he grabbed Morrison's miss, and somehow contorted his body in a way which allowed him to put the ball into the hoop from under the basket with the Malaysian defence draped all over him.

However, the Slingers simply gave themselves too much to do and ran out of time to complete what would have been a famous come-from-behind victory.

Five points was as close as they would get to the Dragons who sealed the 82-72 victory on a couple of jams from Hubbard, first, and later Edwards (18 points, 13 rebounds).

Dragons point-guard Justin Melton also had a decent afternoon with 10 points and four assists, but it was Armon who took home the Player of the Game honours on Sunday.

The Slingers are still in the race for the playoffs and will be playing a 'must win' game against the Warriors in this week's ABL Friday Basketball on FOX SPORTS at Mahaka Square, Indonesia, for the 8PM HKT tip-off.

Quarter scoring: Q1(10-33) Q2(12-10) Q3(21-16) Q4(29-23)

Full-Time: Slingers 72-82 Dragons

Slingers: Sheng Yu - 19, Morrison - 18, Jennings - 16, Singleton - 11, Wong - 3, Cabatu - 3.

Dragons: Armon - 26, Edwards - 18, Hubbard - 13, Melton - 8, Tautuaa - 6, Kuppusamy - 5, Ng - 4.

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