Hong Kong’s Eastern Long Lions crowned Asean basketball champions after stunning debut season

Team see off Singapore Slingers on the road in thrilling double-overtime match to win title at the first attempt

PUBLISHED : Monday, 24 April, 2017, 9:23am
UPDATED : Monday, 24 April, 2017, 10:42pm

Hong Kong’s Eastern Long Lions won the Asean Basketball League in their debut season in the competition as they saw off Singapore Slingers on Sunday night.

Eastern took a thrilling double-overtime game 82-80 at Singapore’s Sports Hub to clinch the series 3-1.

Americans Josh Boone, Marcus Elliott and Tyler Lamb combined to score 24 of Eastern’s final 26 points to drive them over the finish line.

“I think the only thing that kept us going was how close we are as a group. Being able to battle through adversity, staying together, and keeping our energy up through the whole game,” Lamb told the ABL website.

Elliott, with 26 points, 3 rebounds, 8 assists was named finals MVP. Lamb had 21 points, Boone 13 points, and 16 rebounds and Fong Shing-yee had 9 points and 11 rebounds.

“The fact we had to work so hard to get it makes it even sweeter for us. It’s one thing to come out, get a blowout, and it’s another thing to overcome every obstacle, play 50 minutes on the road, win two straight games and win the championship,” said former New Jersey Nets player Boone.

“That’s one of the best feats I have ever seen in my professional career.

“These things, you really have to cherish it. I’ve been doing this for 11 years now. It’s only my second time being a league champion.”

As well as the league title, Eastern were celebrating three other trophies before the match even started.

Elliott was named world import MVP for best foreign player and Thai-American Lamb Asean Heritage MVP.

Eastern’s Spanish coach Edu Torres was named coach of the year in a remarkable debut season for the team.

Eastern were 16-4 in the regular season in the six-team league, which also has sides from Philippines, Taiwan, Malaysia and Vietnam. They went on a 10-game winning streak at one stage.

They launched HK’s first ever professional basketball in March last year with a big injection of cash from a sponsor.

Eastern’s football team is also riding high, with a match against Kitchee on May 6 set to decide the title.