Slingers sink after another sluggish start
Singapore side lose in over-time after coming back to level the game
Singapore Slingers coach Neo Beng Siang has urged his players to stamp out the sluggish starts that have plagued them this Asean Basketball League (ABL) season.
|SINGAPORE SLINGERS||ALAB PILIPINAS|
Neo's comments came after the Slingers lost 80-89 yesterday to Tanduay Alab Pilipinas at the OCBC Arena in their first game of the year.
The Singapore side, whose last game was on Dec 20, got off to a lacklustre start and trailed by eight points with just two minutes left in the first quarter.
But, with backing from the vociferous 2,000-strong crowd, the Slingers' AJ Mandani and Ng Han Bin sunk three-pointers to reduce the deficit to 17-21 to close the opening period.
The Slingers came back stronger in the second quarter to level the score at 36-36 at half-time.
They even led by eight points three minutes into the third quarter, but Alab's Renaldo Balkman (26 points, eight rebounds, two assists) helped his team recover, eventually carving a 63-60 lead for the visitors.
The court reached fever pitch in the final quarter, when Mandani scored a three-pointer with eight seconds left to level the score at 78-78 and force over-time.
We’re a bit rusty... because this is our frst game of the year, but we have only ourselves to blame.Singapore Slingers coach Neo Beng Sian
However, Alab had more in their tank going into the extra period, tapping on the sloppiness of the Slingers, who rued eight crucial misses as the Philippine outfit won 89-80.
Neo, who felt that his team were lacking defensively in the first half, said: "Alab had their first game last week, so we're a bit rusty on the game part because this is our first game of the year, but we have only ourselves to blame.
"We didn't bring the energy in the first half, and defensively, we were not communicating much on what we planned to do, which is why they got easy baskets."
The Slingers, who have won three and lost five games this season, are struggling to replicate last season's form, which saw them reach the Finals.
Neo believes teamwork is still sorely lacking in this year's side.
Said the 56-year-old coach: "It's tough because we keep mentioning how we're going to come out and start strong, but the players are not coming out as a team.
"It's only when we start to pick up the pace that everyone gets involved. We don't want the players to settle down and take on opponents one-on-one because we're not capable of doing that.
"We are not executing our offensive game well, so we need to get people in, penetrate the opponents' defence and take the shot as a team."
Slingers shooting guard Xavier Alexander was also a pale shadow of himself, racking up just 10 points instead of his usual 20-over tallies
Neo said: "Alexander got only 10 points, so that's killing us because he's averaging over 20 points per game.
"But that's just the stats and numbers. As a whole, we need to be more aggressive on our defensive end and protecting the ball when it's in our possession."
Topping the Slingers' scoresheet was new signing Christien Charles, who had a sloppy start with two fouls in the first two minutes.
After an early substitution, the 2.16m-tall centre returned to lead his new team with 23 points, 11 rebounds and three assists.
Said the 36-year-old American, a two-time ABL World Import MVP (2013 and 2014): "I'm a little disappointed with my performance, but I've got to keep working.
"I'm new to the system but that's still really no excuse. I can't afford to start slow, so I've got to be prepared to perform at my highest level from the start."
Charles is looking forward to showing all that he has to offer, though. He added: "This team has proven to be strong, so we just have to regroup and improve on areas that we lacked in and try to come away with a win."
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY KIMBERLY KWEK