Captain Oh leads by example
Slingers skipper leads by example on both ends of the court
|SINGAPORE SLINGERS||HONG KONG EASTERN LONG LIONS|
Going by his playing time, it is clear Singapore Slingers skipper Desmond Oh's stock has fallen this term.
Struggling with knee cartilage problems and recovering from hand surgery, the 30-year-old shooting guard averaged less than 10 minutes per game in the first nine Asean Basketball League matches this season and just 0.89 points per game.
But, true to his "Tenacious D" moniker, Oh worked his socks off and his efforts paid off when he exploded into life in the 82-72 win over Hong Kong Eastern Long Lions at the OCBC Arena yesterday.
Leading by example on both ends of the court, he converted four three-pointers from seven attempts en route to 13 points, and helped to keep a lid on the visitors' imports.
Oh told The New Paper: "This is definitely my best game of the season. It wasn't easy coming back after my hand injury because both my knees gave me problems.
"I just kept practising and doing my best, and I have to thank my coaches who gave me tips on how to adjust my footwork to cope with my knee problems.
"I'm happy to contribute to the team's win. My offensive game was effective only because we defended well as a team.
"After losing to Alab Pilipinas on Friday, this is a big victory against another strong team.
"It is a good psychological boost to go into the Chinese New Year break top of the table on 8-2 and a perfect home record at the halfway point of the season."
Eastern had threatened to inflict a first home defeat and back-to-back losses for the Slingers when they took a 23-21 lead in the opening quarter.
The home team's imports struggled in certain aspects of their game - big centre Justin Howard (17 points, 19 rebounds) was seven-for-19 in field goals, while swingman Xavier Alexander (15 points, 10 rebounds) was three-for-nine from the free-throw line.
But Oh's fine form began to spread through the local roster, who outscored their American teammates for the first time this season.
Small forward Leon Kwek scored a team-high 19 points along with eight rebounds, while shooting guard Mitchell Folkoff and point guard Wong Wei Long chipped in nine points each.
In the end, it was a comfortable win for the Slingers, with Alexander limiting Eastern point guard Marcus Elliott (20 points) to just three points in the second half and Howard claiming vital rebounds and assists.
Slingers coach Neo Beng Siang said: "Desmond stepped up big time for us today and we need more from the local players to help the team.
"He didn't play much because he was coming back from injury and his performance wasn't there. He has to earn his playing time and this performance should help rebuild his confidence.
"As for the team, we were a bit down flying back from the Philippines after the defeat, so it was a job well done to bounce back straight away, stick to the game plan and get the win.
"Eastern were killing us with their three pointers when they shot seven-for-12 in the first half, but we did well to make them miss all eight attempts in the second half. It is not easy to play one away and one home game in three days and we have to do this twice more.
"The good thing is we have a two-week break to recover from injury and fatigue before our next game away at Kaohsiung Truth on Feb 3."