Title's still the target for Singapore Slingers
Neo wants struggling Slingers to seal home-court advantage in play-offs
|Singapore Slingers||KAOHSIUNG TRUTH|
Despite losing three of their last four games, Singapore Slingers coach Neo Beng Siang insists that they are still aiming to win their first Asean Basketball League title.
With a 10-5 win-loss ratio and less than half a season to go, they are unlikely to overtake leaders Hong Kong Eastern Long Lions (10-2).
But there is still much at stake for the second-placed Singapore side as the top-two finishers in the regular season enjoy home-court advantage in the play-off semi-finals.
Neo said: "We have to put our recent disappointment aside and get back to working as a team and start winning again.
"We won't match last season's 16-4, but our target is still to win the championship.
"But first, we cannot take the play-off spot for granted as the teams below us can still catch up. Top spot for the regular season looks hard now, but the minimum I want is to secure home-court advantage for the semi-finals."
The Slingers take on Kaohsiung Truth at the OCBC Arena at 4pm today, and Neo hopes the fans can show up in force and lift the hosts.
This is a test of character for us... I want the boys to treat this as a must-win.Singapore Slingers coach Neo Beng Siang
The coach must be cursing his team's luck with injuries as this week, forward Kelvin Lim was ruled out for the season after undergoing knee surgery.
Big American centre Justin Howard and forwards Mitchell Folkoff and Wu Qingde are also sidelined.
"The injuries are killing us, but we will just have to manage," said Neo.
"(Former NBA centre) Luke Schenscher will play one more game before returning to Australia. For someone who has not played in three months, he has done his part and I'm happy with his contributions.
"We now have four home games in a row, which we must take advantage of.
"We should have those full-time national servicemen and regulars like Delvin Goh and Larry Liew to boost our depth.
"More importantly, we will also have our fans behind us, which means a lot in our fight for the title.
"On the court, I need the players to work on our defence. It was our tough defence that got us to the finals last season."
Up front, the Slingers will have to improve on their shooting. They can take a leaf out of Eastern's book on how to negate the Truth's two-three zone defence, which baits opponents into taking shots from distance.
The Hong Kong outfit took up the challenge and set a new record of 17 three-pointers from 41 attempts in the 103-83 win over the Truth on Wednesday.
Neo said: "Credit to Kaohsiung for beating us last week because they wanted the win more than us. We will need to shoot well but, like I said before, it doesn't matter how many points we score if we cannot stop them from scoring.
"This is a test of character for us and, with five games to go, I want the boys to treat this as a must-win."