Slingers upbeat over new season
Even as the ABL will be tougher with a 10th team, S'pore side have won all 5 friendlies with 2 new imports
Singapore Slingers coach Neo Beng Siang anticipates that the upcoming Asean Basketball League (ABL) title race will be the toughest yet, but he still feels optimistic about his team's championship aspirations.
|SINGAPORE SLINGERS||FORMOSA DREAMERS|
Neo expects competition to escalate following the addition of a 10th team, Zhuhai Wolf Warriors, and the introduction of new rules to the league.
Under the new regulations, teams can now have three World imports instead of two World and two Asean Heritage imports - players who have roots in South-east Asian countries.
In addition to that, players with one parent born in that particular country can be considered local players.
He said: "Every game is tough because every team have loaded up on their roster. Especially in this coming season, with 10 teams and changes to the rules on the World imports.
"They are advantageous for other teams but for us, we'll just do our part and approach the season with confidence."
The Slingers had a promising pre-season that saw them bag five wins in five games, notching three victories over their ABL competitors Saigon Heat (79-76), Hong Kong Eastern (91-83) and Westports Malaysia Dragons (81-70).
Local shooting guard Ng Han Bin believes that securing results in pre-season indicates that the team are on the right path, but also made sure to emphasise on the need to keep improving if the Slingers are to challenge for the championship.
He said: "Starting the pre-season with five wins is a good start and it shows that we are on the right track.
"There are definitely things that we can get better in and that's definitely what we're focusing on right now."
Developing chemistry among players is something Ng feels will take time, especially with the inclusion of two new World imports, Jerran Young and John Fields.
But he has faith in the newcomers' ability to settle into the squad.
Swing-man Young enjoyed a decent run during pre-season, contributing significantly both offensively and defensively with game-high scores of 29 points and 25 points against Saigon Heat and Westports Malaysia Dragons respectively.
Young is feeling upbeat about his ABL debut, with the Slingers tipping off their season against Formosa Dreamers at the OCBC Arena on Sunday.
He said: "I feel good about it. I have good teammates, as a whole, we're doing great. We're coming into the season ready to win."
In both their encounters with the Taiwanese side last season, the Slingers won 87-69 and 72-65.
But the Dreamers look ready to shake off their abysmal form in their maiden season when they won only one game.
They have taken steps to strengthen their squad with their World imports and a change of coach, with Dean Murray taking over the reins from their previous coach, Hsu Hao Cheng.
Despite these changes, Neo believes his team have what it takes to start their season on the right note, saying: "We must transfer everything during practice on to the court and do what we're supposed to do to plan our strategy.
"They are strong on paper this year but we are a defensive team and we run the floor, so if we just do our business, we'll be good."