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Slingers cruise to opening Merlion Cup win

SINGAPORE - The Singapore Slingers used a balanced offence and scrappy defence to cruise to a straightforward 89-69 over Taiwan's Yulon Luxgen Dinos in their Merlion Cup 2017 game on Wednesday (Sep 20) at the OCBC Arena.

Five Slingers scored in double figures, led by debutant centre Ryan Wright with 23 points. Fellow import Xavier Alexander just missed out on a triple-double with 18 points, 9 rebounds and 9 assists. The trio of Russel Low, Leon Kwek and Delvin Goh, fresh off a SEA Games campaign for Team Singapore, contributed 14, 12 and 11 points respectively.

Singapore Slingers' Wright Ryan Bradley (in red) in action against the Taiwan's Yulon Luxgen Dinos.ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE
The Slingers pushed the pace from the first quarter, opening up a 21-14 lead. The Dinos had no answer for the Slingers' pressing on defence and run-and-gun offence, with the largest lead of the night at 24 for the Slingers.

Said coach Neo Beng Siang: "What I liked about today was that we pushed the ball, ran the floor. But we can still improve on the structure of our team defence."

The Dinos were led by American import Bryan Davis with 15 points.

In the first game of the day, defending champions Shanghai Sharks of the Chinese Basketball Association came from behind to beat Indonesia's Satria Muda Pertamina 81-69.

Trailing 30-39 at the half, the Sharks turned on the style in the second half, led by guard Luo Hanchen and forward Dong Hanlin, who ended with 27 and 17 points respectively.

Coming out with an urgency they had lacked in the first half, the Sharks levelled the score after just 2 minutes and 18 seconds into the third quarter of the Group A tie.

Luo added six rebounds and three assists in an impressive all-around performance.

Satria Muda, meanwhile, saw most of their offence come through their trio of foreign imports, who accounted for 62 of the team's points.

Centre Shawn Taggart was their top scorer with 25 points on 11-of-20 shooting and also had 14 rebounds.

This year's Merlion Cup, which runs from Sept 20-24, sees the participation of seven teams, one more than last year.

The competition returned after a 20-year hiatus last year.

In the other Group A game of the day, South Korea's Jeonju KCC Egis defeated the Philippines' NLEX-SCTEX 99-79, led by Andre Emmett Jr's 18 points.

The Slingers are in Group B, with Australia's Adelaide 36ers and Yulon Luxgen Dinos of Taiwan.

Author: Lester Wong
Source: http://www.straitstimes.com/sport/basketball/basketball-defending-champions-shanghai-sharks-open-merlion-cup-defence-with-a-win

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