Basketball: Attack lets Slingers down

Poor shooting reason for Singapore team's loss in first match of ABL play-off semi-finals

For all their efforts working on defence during training, it was their shooting accuracy that proved to be their Achilles' heel.

And that saw the Singapore Slingers edged out 70-73 by defending champions Hi-Tech Bangkok City in the first match of the Asean Basketball League play-off semi-finals yesterday.

The defeat means the second-seeded Slingers have to win Friday's reverse fixture in Bangkok, with the first to two wins advancing to the Finals to face the victor of the other semi-final between Westports Malaysia Dragons and Saigon Heat. The Dragons won 84-68 on Saturday.

Singapore Slingers' Xavier Alexander dunking as Hi-Tech Bangkok City's Piyapong Piroon watches. Alexander was guilty of missing crucial free throws in the fourth quarter at the OCBC Arena yesterday.
Singapore Slingers' Xavier Alexander dunking as Hi-Tech Bangkok City's Piyapong Piroon watches. Alexander was guilty of missing crucial free throws in the fourth quarter at the OCBC Arena yesterday. ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

The Singapore outfit were abject from beyond the arc, converting only one three-pointer out of 14 attempts. A final effort by the otherwise outstanding Kris Rosales was also off-target, summing up a poor shooting performance by the team.

SET ON BOUNCING BACK

We need to tidy up on certain things like offence. We played more individually rather than as a team in offence today... In training we'll really emphasise and work on that.

NEO BENG SIANG, Slingers coach, on why they lost to Hi-Tech.

They sank just 26 out of 68 field-goal attempts, leading to frequent outbursts of frustration from the coaches and groans from the 1,300-strong OCBC Arena crowd.

Nerves also appeared to be a recurring theme with the home team, with Wong Wei Long, Justin Howard and Xavier Alexander all guilty of missing crucial free throws in the fourth quarter.

In a scrappy affair, both teams were plagued by foul trouble throughout. The Slingers' captain Desmond Oh fouled out with less than three minutes remaining, and was followed shortly by team-mate Wu Qingde.

Hi-Tech's Patrick Cabahug also had his game end prematurely with little more than a minute to go.

The Slingers also had to make do without centre Howard's presence for much of the first half. The American was substituted as a precaution after chalking up three fouls in the first quarter.

Despite Alexander's good work, covering Howard's absence with 17 rebounds, Hi-Tech's Christien Charles once again wreaked havoc in the paint with 22 points and 19 rebounds. In the teams' previous meeting earlier this month, he had also put up a dominant display with 26 points and 21 rebounds.

Charles was the third-seeded Thai team's top scorer. He was helped by Fred Goldstein (14) and Cabahug (13). Rosales led all scorers with 24 points, with Howard and Oh contributing 12 and 10 respectively.

Hi-Tech assistant coach Raha Mortel was understandably delighted with his team's away victory, especially with key players Tyler Lamb and Wuttipong Dasom ruled out through injury. He said: "Everybody had the heart to win. It was all hard work, after the sleepless nights thinking about the game and watching videos."

The Slingers' coach Neo Beng Siang lamented his team's inability to convert their chances, but is confident his charges will bounce back with a win in Bangkok.

"We need to tidy up on certain things like offence," he said. "We played more individually rather than as a team in offence today... In training we'll really emphasise and work on that."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 29, 2016, with the headline 'ATTACK LETS SLINGERS DOWN'. Print Edition | Subscribe