Slingers slump to opening-day defeat
The numerous changes to their playing roster and absence of key players took a toll on the Singapore Slingers, as they were routed 83-59 by Kung Fu Basketball Club in last night's curtain-raiser to the new Asean Basketball League season.
The match was delayed by 15 minutes as China's basketball association declined to approve the registration of the club, and as such Nanhai had to be dropped as a prefix from their original name, although that did not distract the hosts.
|KUNG FU BASKETBALL CLUB||SINGAPORE SLINGERS|
Missing Mitchell Folkoff, Leon Kwek and Larry Liew, Slingers coach Neo Beng Siang took just 10 players instead of the customary 12 to the Nanhai Gymnasium and got off to a cold start, making just four out of 13 attempts in the first quarter.
Canadian centre Ryan Wright (six points) and Russel Low were the only ones to make baskets for last season's ABL finalists in the opening period, as Nanhai raced to a 17-8 lead.
While their former Slingers centre Justin Howard misfired in the first half with a conversion rate of just 20 per cent, Anthony Tucker more than made up for it, catching fire with 12 points and seven rebounds to help his team to a 35-24 half-time advantage.
The Slingers made a 9-2 start in the third quarter, but the players continued to struggle for on-court chemistry as Tucker became almost unplayable from the three-point line, making seven out of 10 shots from downtown en route to a game-high 31 points.
The visitors were over-reliant on Wright (26 points and 11 rebounds) and Xavier Alexander (14 points, seven rebounds and eight assists) and the late comeback that Neo was looking for never materialised.
Neo said: "I'm not happy with the whole team. Our strengths are running and pushing, and we failed to do that.
"We were too conservative. In offence, after one or two passes, we were too slow and looked like passengers. Up front, we gave up too many offensive rebounds.
"We know all about Howard and did well to box him out, but we did one job and not the others. Tucker can shoot, and he killed us with all his three-pointers."
His counterpart Charles Dube-Brais admitted his team made the most out of their status as ABL debutants as few knew about most of his players before tip-off.
"We watched how the Slingers played last season. As a Canadian, I also knew about Wright, and they couldn't do the same about us," he said.
"We knew Singapore are an experienced side and we would have our hands full with Alexander and Wright.
"They are a good team in transition, so we wanted to limited their transition opportunities, and we executed our game plan from start to end.
"Our shot selection was good and we were better at the rebounding end.
"Throughout the first three quarters, we were a few baskets away from putting them away and it was testament to the Slingers' hard work that we could not do so.
"But we pushed on in the fourth quarter and finally managed to push them to breaking point."
The Slingers will play their next game at home against another new side, CLS Knights Indonesia, on Nov 26 at the OCBC Arena.
Tickets are available from apactix.com.