Revitalised Slingers sink Saigon Heat
Singapore side banish inconsistent performances to consolidate fifth spot
The Singapore Slingers responded to coach Neo Beng Siang's call to be hungrier on the court as they blazed to a 94-76 win over Saigon Heat at the OCBC Arena yesterday.
|SINGAPORE SLINGERS||SAIGON HEAT|
It was an improved performance from their scrappy 72-65 victory over Formosa Dreamers two weeks ago, which Neo described as an "ugly win".
Neo, who has been urging his players to show more desire, was delighted by his team's performance.
He said: "I'm very happy. I think there was good energy and good intensity throughout most of the game, so from there we can improve for the next game."
The game started closely, with Saigon temporarily leading 12-11. But the Slingers pulled ahead to end the quarter 28-21.
Deft attacking displays and a solid defensive show by Christien Charles saw the rejuvenated Slingers extend their lead to 50-37 by half-time.
The Singaporean team wasted no time after the break to take a 19-point lead over Saigon with a score of 58-39 early in the third quarter.
We’re trying to get into our Play-off mindset winding to the end of the season. Every game’s going to be a dog fight ...Slingers point guard A.J. Mandani
But the Vietnamese outfit fought back to close the gap, finishing the quarter 67-58.
They further reduced the deficit in the final quarter, narrowing the score to 67-60.
But the Slingers refused to let Saigon back into the game as they went on a scoring rampage to storm to a well-deserved 94-76 win.
The victory over sixth-placed Saigon means the Slingers, who improved their win-loss record to nine-seven, consolidated their fifth spot in the nine-team table.
Neo believes that the win gives the Slingers a huge boost as they battle for a place in the Play-offs, giving them confidence as they prepare to face second-placed Chongson Kungfu this Sunday.
The 51-year-old said: "This is our second straight (home) game and we're building up for next week, when we play against the No. 2 team.
They’re pretty strong and tough as well .. we have to come out and play strong, focused and aggressive.Slingers coach Neo Beng Siang, on Chongson Kungfu, this Sunday’s opponents
"They're pretty strong and tough as well, but I always believe that we have to come out and play strong, focused and aggressive."
Slingers point guard A.J. Mandani, who clocked a game-high 25 points, shared the same sentiments and insisted that the team are fighting hard to finish the season well.
He said: "We've been working towards this game and the upcoming games.
"We're trying to get into our Play-off mindset winding to the end of the season.
"Every game's going to be a dog fight and we're just going to keep on playing and fighting to the best that we can."
Charles, who racked up 24 points, 29 rebounds and seven assists, attributed yesterday's triumph to the Slingers' consistency throughout the game - something that had eluded them previously.
He said: "We had more consistency and intensity.
"We had some lapses, but I felt like it was more positive throughout the four quarters as compared to the last game and that's something that we want to build momentum on."
The Slingers centre warned that the team must keep working hard and build on this win to see themselves through to the Play-offs.
He said:"It's going to get tougher and tougher moving forward.
"We have to focus on the details and try to keep our consistency level up and stay locked in."