Wong and locals help Slingers beat champions
Key guard and fellow locals earn praise from rival coach as Slingers beat champs
Wong Wei Long, at 1.74m, is the shortest player on the Singapore Slingers' roster.
But, yesterday, he stood tall to nudge his team over the finish line.
Although the 27-year-old chalked up only 13 points, his contribution earned plaudits from the opposition coach.
In front of a crowd of 1,200, the Slingers edged their top-of-the-table clash against defending champions Hi-Tech Bangkok City 83-80 at the OCBC Arena, extending their winning streak to eight games.
It was a tight contest up to the fourth quarter, with the score locked at 55-55.
But two three-pointers each from Wong and compatriot Wu Qingde put the Slingers firmly in the driver's seat.
Wong, back from a two-game suspension, said: "These couple of years, the locals have been stepping up. It shows that they can really play.
"Qingde is the one who surprised me; since game one, he has been stepping up his game."
Wu, 23, followed up last week's sterling performance against the Pilipinas MX3 Kings with five three-pointers and 19 points to top the Slingers' scorers.
"I just have to focus on getting these open shots because my teammates draw a lot of defenders towards them," he said. "They are the ones giving me the confidence to take all those shots."
After the game, Hi-Tech assistant coach Raha Mortel praised the Slingers' local players.
"Singapore are tough to beat, especially with their local players contributing very well," he said.
"Especially Wu, who was dominating the ball. During the first and second quarters, he had three out of three three-point shots; that was the game-changer.
"We can handle their imports, but their bench players (contributed a lot). If you see their stats, they are very well-rounded - Desmond (Oh) is there, Wei Long is there."
The Slingers lead the table with seven games left, five of them at home.
"It's tough. Everybody has more expectations of the team," he said. "We won't let this get to our mind.
"The team culture is to play defence and to be disciplined."
Slingers coach Neo Beng Siang played down his side's chances of a historic title, instead choosing to focus on one game at a time.
"We are happy because we are still at the top of the table, but we cannot be satisfied yet. We don't want to feel over-confident," he said.
"Anybody can come back. If we drop one game, we must give ourselves a chance to get back to the top."