Slingers survive for playoff berth, Eastern wins potential playoff preview clash

We were promised an exciting clash between the Singapore Slingers and Zamboanga Valientes,
considering what was on the line heading into the game. And true enough, an exciting clash
was what the fans at Nguyen Du Stadium got.

The Slingers fought back run after run in a game where there was very little room for error and
emerged victorious over Zamboanga Valientes, 97-87.

The main storyline heading into the contest was that the winner of the game would clinch a
playoff spot and the two definitely played with the intensity of teams fighting to keep their
2023 ABL Invitational campaigns alive. In the end, it was the Singapore Slingers who are moving
on, making it their eighth playoff in an ABL competition.

With so much at stake for the Slingers, there was no surprise that arguably one of the top
candidates for the best player of the competition, Kentrell Barkley, had one of his best games
yet. The superstar forward made his debut for the Slingers with a 37-point outing in a close win
while making the clutch shot and has had some ridiculous stat lines since, but even then, his
performance in this game might end up as his ABL masterpiece. Barkley finished with not only
his personal high, but the highest point tally in the 2023 ABL Invitational so far with 41 points
on 5 three-pointers and 12-13 free-throw shooting to go with 5 assists and 5 rebounds just for
good measure.



CJ Gettys also had a fantastic game for the Slingers with 24 points, 18 rebounds, 6 assists, and 2
three-pointers including a third-quarter buzzer-beater that kept the momentum in the Slingers’

Even though it was a grim ending for Zamboanga Valientes, they can hold their head high for
the effort they put on the floor from start to finish. They had a rocky start back in the Singapore
circuit and to come so close to qualifying for the playoffs is something that they can look back
to for motivation.

Balkman finished with yet another double-double of 25 points and 11 rebounds while playing
outstanding defense to the tone of 4 steals. He paired well with Chalmers, who had 19 points, 8
assists, and 4 steals of his own, leaving fans to wonder how much better this team might have
been if this duo had more time together.

Jeremy Arthur (16 points) and James Kuwekuteye (14 points) both wrap up a solid ABL
campaign with solid performances.

The later game in the day might have received less fanfare as Hong Kong Eastern were
confirmed to have also qualified for the playoffs after Singapore Slingers’ loss to the Saigon
Heat in the previous day, but that didn't slow them down from getting a solid win over NS
Matrix, 73-62.



The Malaysian club didn’t have much of an answer for Eastern’s Chris McLaughlin who already
had a double-double by halftime and finished the game with 24 points and 17 rebounds. The
role of stopping opposing players in the paint is reserved for Amir Williams who is still
unavailable for NS Matrix, but could be expected to return when the playoffs begin.

Aside from McLaughlin, Eastern also enjoyed a balance attack between Tonny Trocha Morelos
(15 points, 9 rebounds, 6 assists), Dominic Gilbert (16 points, 14 rebounds, 4 assists), and
O’Darien Bassett (12 points, 9 rebounds, 6 assists).

For NS Matrix, Wong Yi Hou led the team in scoring with 20 points, while Tevin Glass posted an
all-around 13 points, 10 rebounds, and 5 assists.

The results of the game today put the Slingers at 9-5, locking up the 4 th seed in the playoffs. NS
Matrix finish their campaign with a 10-4 record, while Hong Kong Eastern are at 9-4 with one
more game left against the Bangkok Tigers on Friday, 17 February.

The Saigon Heat (10-3) also have one more game left in their schedule, going up against Louvre
Surabaya to close out the Vietnam circuit.

If Hong Kong Eastern and Saigon Heat both win, Saigon Heat (11-3) will clinch the top seed
while Hong Kong Eastern (10-4) will clinch the second seed with a head-to-head tiebreaker
advantage over NS Matrix.

If Hong Kong Eastern lose and Saigon Heat win, Saigon Heat (11-3) will clinch the top seed while
Hong Kong Eastern (9-5) would remain as third seed with a head-to-head tiebreaker advantage
over the Singapore Slingers.

If Hong Kong Eastern and Saigon Heat both lose, Saigon Heat (10-4) would end up as second
seed as NS Matrix (10-4) have the head-to-head tiebreaker advantage while Hong Kong Eastern
(9-5) would remain as third seed with a head-to-head tiebreaker advantage over the Singapore

If Hong Kong Eastern win and Saigon Heat lose, it would result in a three-way tie at 10-4
between Saigon Heat, NS Matrix, and Hong Kong Eastern. In this rare case, the point difference
in the games played between the three teams are exactly at zero, so the three-team tiebreaker
would instead be the total amount of points scored in the games between these three teams.
In this case, Saigon Heat (350 points) would be the first seed, NS Matrix (307 points) would be
the second seed, and Hong Kong Eastern (303 points) would be the third seed.