Back to drawing board for Slingers
Coach Neo admits they did not live up to their reputation of having the ABL's meanest defence
Just not good enough.
That, in a nutshell, summed up the Singapore Slingers' season, after they were knocked out of the Asean Basketball League play-offs by Thai side Mono Vampire yesterday.
|SINGAPORE SLINGERS||MONO VAMPIRE|
The Slingers did not live up to their reputation of having the meanest defence in the ABL and were vanquished 82-85 in Game 2 at the OCBC Arena.
They had lost Game 1 by the same score in Bangkok last Friday.
Slingers coach Neo Beng Siang admitted that his team, who reached the play-off Finals in the last two years, came up short on both ends this year.
"It's a disappointing loss," said the 51-year-old as he shook his head, pointing out that his side had conceded over 80 points in both games.
They really deserve the championship, but it’s really unfortunate that I couldn’t help them get there this year.Singapore Slingers centre Christien Charles
"I'm not happy with what we had set out to do, especially on the defensive end."
Defensive lapses were not the only problems that had cost them the game, though.
Neo felt his team lacked offensive options in difficult positions and were forced to make tough calls.
He said: "It also comes down to decision-making when we're in offence. We need to make quick and smart moves.
"Mono shot well on the three-point line with over 50 per cent, so that basically killed us quite a bit."
Asked if he would have made any changes in hindsight, Neo pondered and replied: "Maybe we should have spent more on our offence, because we've got to be more even on both ends.
"I can't turn back the clock, but overall, I'm happy that the guys gave their all and we'll just keep working hard and move on from here."
It may have been Mono's day, but the Slingers made sure the visitors slogged for the win.
Leading the first quarter 18-16, the Slingers fell short in the second quarter as Mono's 2.26m centre Samuel Deguara and 1.98m forward Michael Singletary had it easy under the basket, handing Mono a 37-34 lead at half-time.
The Slingers came back roaring with forwards Ng Han Bin and Larry Liew scoring crucial three-pointers, and Xavier Alexander disrupting Mono's attack.
Despite entering the final quarter with a 61-58 lead, the Slingers found themselves tangled in Mono's defence.
The 1,200-strong crowd were kept on the edge of their seats as play switched rapidly from end to end.
The atmosphere reached fever pitch when the Slingers' AJ Mandani bagged a stunning three- pointer to make it 82-82.
A foul fest in the final minute of the game proved to be the difference for Mono.
They scored the determining three points through free-throws, and earned their ticket to the semi-finals, where they will meet Chongson Kung Fu.
Despite the defeat, Slingers supporters consoled the players with pats on their backs.
Slingers centre Christien Charles could not stop blaming himself, though.
The 37-year-old, who picked up four fouls just 25 minutes into the game, murmured: "I'm just really disappointed in myself and my performance defensively.
"The guys really fought hard to come back into the game (after my four fouls) and it's been a pleasure and an honour to be a part of this time.
"They really deserve the championship, but it's really unfortunate that I couldn't help them get there this year."