Anthony Johnson scored 20 of his 26 points during the pivotal fourth quarter as the AirAsia Philippine Patriots came from behind to defeat the Jobstreet.com Singapore Slingers, 90-84, Saturday night in the ASEAN Basketball League at the Ynares Arena in Pasig City.
Johnson’s heroics allowed the Patriots to overcome a 13-point halftime deficit leading his team to their 15th victory in 20 outings in their final home game of the elimination round.
Already assured of the number two seed and home court advantage in the semifinals, the Patriots found it difficult to turn their game a notch higher. But Johnson and company wrested the win during a 28-7 charge at the start of the fourth.
“It’s hard to motivate the players because we are already in the semifinals. But luckily, the players responded to the call,” said AirAsia Philippine Patriots coach Glenn Capacio.
Nakiea Miller had 20 points and 11 rebounds while Ardy Larong had nine points for the Patriots but the fourth quarter belonged to Johnson.
Johnson, still nursing a groin injury, led a 9-0 run to decrease Singapore’s gap to two points, 64-62. He wrested the lead for the Patriots with a three-pointer, 67-66, but Filipino Don Dulay hit a three to regain the advantage for the Slingers.
The Patriots, however, grab the upper hand for good as Larong tied the match with a short stab while Johnson converted a three-point play to start off a 14-0 run.
Kyle Jeffers had a game-high 30 points for Singapore. He was a force in the first half scoring 20 as the Slingers took a 44-31 lead after the second period but he was limited to only 10 points the rest of the way.
Singapore’s other reinforcement Louis Graham added 20 points while Dulay added 13.