The biggest story of the Kuala Lumpur circuit proved worth the wait as Mario Chalmers led
Zamboanga Valientes to a win while Hong Kong Eastern outlasted the Singapore Slingers.
The first game of the day at MABA Stadium was a rematch between Eastern and the Slingers,
where the Hong Kong side prevailed once again, 85-83.
The first half was a near replay of the previous meeting at OCBC Arena where Dominic Gilbert
wreak havoc on the Slingers’ defense. He came up with 22 points in those first two quarters to
give Eastern a 13-point cushion at halftime.
The Slingers played only 6 players with 3 playing the whole game and Alexander resting 6
seconds while Eastern went down 8 players deep with only Gilbert going the full 40 minutes.
That might have played a part in effecting the game as even though the Slingers opened a 14-0
run to claim the lead towards the end of the fourth quarter, they wouldn’t hold on to it for
After retaking the lead, Hong Kong Eastern maintained their cushion and even survived a last-
resort rally from the feisty Slingers to come away with the win.
Gilbert finished with an all-around game with 28 points on 12-18 shooting to go with 7
rebounds and 7 assists as the star in this Eastern win. However, it was the clutch three-pointer
that was Eastern’s final points of the game by Odarian Bassett that clinched the momentum of
the game for good. Those were Bassett’s only points in the fourth quarter, his second three-
pointer, and finishing with 14 points in the game, but “OBD” continued to prove his worth as
Eastern’s cold-blooded clutch performer.
For the Slingers, it was undeniably another big-time performance from Kentrell Barkley,
confirming his status as one of the top dogs in the 2023 ABL Invitational. Aside from the
outstanding counting stats of 26 points, 4-8 three-point shooting, 8 assists, 0 turnover, and 6
steals, “Sir Kent” was the driving force in the Slingers’ final attempt to reclaim the lead.
The win for Eastern means that they don’t give an edge to NS Matrix and Saigon Heat who won
the previous day, as the three teams are all tied at 7-2 at the top. Meanwhile, even though the
Singapore Slingers drop to 5-4, they’re still a bit ahead of the teams chasing them for a Playoff
spot.Those two teams right at the edge of the Playoff bubble are the Macau Black Bears and
Zamboanga Valientes who faced off in the immediate following game.
It was an important game for the Valientes not only because they were unveiling their new
addition to the team, two-time NBA champion Mario Chalmers, but also because they were one
game behind the Black Bears in the standings. After claiming a 92-82 victory, both teams are
now tied at 4-5.
Chalmers did not wait to make an impact for his new team, immediately going for an efficient
11 points in the first half with Zamboanga leading 47-31. The Black Bears would have spurts
here and there, but the Valientes collectively were able to cruise away with the victory.
It was hardly a one-man effort from the former NBA standout. Even though Chalmers finished
with 19 points on only 10 attempts, 3 rebounds, and 7 assists, the entire team saw action in this
game with 8 players scoring at least 5 points.
Leading the way for Valientes once again was their hero of the first half in the ABL Invitational,
Antonio Hester. The big man finished with 21 points, 9 rebounds, and 3 steals.
The Macau Black Bears got the usual performances from their trio of scorers, Dequan Abron (27
points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists), Isaiah Wade (24 points, 14 rebounds), and Jenning Leung (18
points, 6 assists, 2 steals) but the rest of the line-up contributed only 13 more points.
Hong Kong Eastern jump right back into action on February 5 in a high-stake game against the
Saigon Heat where one team will be left behind in the standings of the competition. The
Slingers, Black Bears, and Valientes get one day of rest before all coming back on the court on
February 6. The Slingers and Black Bears will face each other in an important battle towards
that final playoff spot, while Valientes hope to keep their good form going against the Bangkok