Philippines-Mighty Sports had to overcome a gutsy Singapore Slingers squad late in the fourth quarter to escape with a narrow victory, 72-70, and barge into the Merlion Cup 2016 Finals Saturday night at the OCBC Arena in Singapore.
Their victory sends them to the final round of the comebacking cagefest against the Chinese team Shanghai Sharks, who defeated the Seoul Samsung Thunders earlier to book the first finals slot.
Mighty Sports had a bright start, erupting to a 7-0 run early in the opening frame. The Slingers then came back from the deficit through their outside shots and closed to within four, 13-9. They had chances to inch nearer, but Mighty Sports, behind contributions from Matthew Wright and Dewarick Spencer, outscored the Singaporeans 8-5 to end the frame with a six-point advantage, 21-15.
The home team fought back in the second period, bringing the fight to the Filipinos in a tight affair. The Slingers tasted their first lead, 24-23, in the 6:44 mark. Mighty Sports tried to regain rhythm, but Singapore resorted to their run-and-gun scheme to gain the upper hand. From 28-all, the Slingers made an 8-3 spree behind Justin Howard and Xavier Alexander to own the first half, 36-33.
The Slingers were able to erect an eight-point lead, 43-35, early in the third period. However, Mighty Sports crawled back from the deficit after a monstrous takeover from Spencer. The American guard scored 17 in the quarter alone, and with a few help from Joseph Yeo and Kiefer Ravena, Mighty Sports found themselves at the driver’s seat once more as the third quarter ended, 56-54.
Both squads engaged in another heated battle in the final frame. With the Slingers and Mighty Sports not allowing each other to pull away wide, both teams saw themselves in another deadlock at 65-all with 3:03 remaining. Al Thornton’s bucket sent PH ahead, 67-65, but a triple from Howard sent SG up 68-67.
— TNP Sports (@TNPSports) September 24, 2016
With the one-point deficit, Ravena and Yeo joined hands, combining for five quick points to propel Mighty Sports up by four, 72-68, with 46.4 ticks remaining. The Slingers converted from the line courtesy of Wong Wei Long, 72-70, but a costly dribbling violation by Slingers’ import Jeff Viernes inside the paint sealed the slim victory for the Filipinos.
With their two-point win against the host squad, PH-Mighty Sports will face the Jimmer Fredette-led Shanghai Sharks team tomorrow, Sunday, September 25, at 6:00 PM.
Quarterscores: 21-15, 36-33, 56-54, 72-70.