Slingers coach has eyes set on home triumph
Slingers coach hopes home support can carry his team to first ABL title
|SINGAPORE SLINGERS||HONG KONG EASTERN LONG LIONS|
- Teams tied at 1-1 in best-of-five series
Little separated the Singapore Slingers and the Hong Kong Eastern Long Lions in their head-to-head meetings during the Asean Basketball League (ABL) regular season, as both sides claimed two wins apiece.
The theme has continued in the best-of-five ABL Finals.
After the Slingers clinched a 92-76 victory in the opening game, Eastern hit back in Game Two with a 92-84 win on Tuesday.
Following their back-to-back away games, the Slingers will host the next two matches at the OCBC Arena, today and on Sunday.
Slingers coach Neo Beng Siang hopes the home support can spur his side to two straight wins for a maiden ABL championship.
The 49-year-old said: "We thank the fans for their great support throughout the season.
"We know they will be behind us once again for the Finals and we want to win the title on home ground for them.
"It will be up to us, the team, to control our emotions, step up, play our game and win."
Indeed the support from Slingers fans has been unwavering, as seen during the team's Game One semi-final win over the Alab Pilipinas earlier this month, when they packed the 3,000-capacity OCBC Arena.
While tickets for tonight's match are still available, The New Paper understands they are selling fast.
Another pulsating affair is in store tonight, as both coaches are demanding more of the aggression that helped them to their respective victories.
In Game One, Slingers centre Justin Howard bullied the opponents with 45 points and 28 rebounds as they outhustled Eastern, but the tables were turned in Game Two when he was reduced to 19 points and 12 rebounds.
Neo said: "We have to be more physical than Eastern were in Game Two, and still stay calm and controlled.
"We have to continue playing good defence and limit our turnovers and foul trouble.
"If we can achieve all these, we will be fine."
Eastern point guard Marcus Elliott, who was ejected in the third quarter of Game Two after posting 26 points, has called for his teammates to produce the same effort that drew them level in the series.
He said: "In Game One, we did not bring in any kind of energy. We started out flat and that was it.
"We played with more effort in Game Two and it showed.
"We made it harder for their guards to set up Justin inside and that's what we have to do for the rest of this series."
Both finalists will be sweating over injuries to their key player.
Slingers forward Mitchell Folkoff picked up a knock in the right knee in Game Two, while Eastern's former New Jersey Nets centre Joshua Boone hurt his right ankle.
Neo said: "We will see how he copes with training, but Mitch has been crucial with his physicality and aggression."
Similarly, Eastern coach Eduard Torres said that Boone remains a doubt.
He said: "(For a former NBA player), Josh is humble enough to adjust to the situation.
"He understood he has to play defence and share the ball in offence like everyone else, and he showed that especially in Game Two.
"He will travel, but we are not sure if he will be able to play on Friday. It's one day at a time."