Basketball: Late surge by Sharks gives them victory over the Slingers

SINGAPORE - The Singapore Slingers proved that they were no pushovers, despite losing 67-89 to Chinese Basketball Association team Shanghai Sharks in their Merlion Cup group game on Friday (Sept 23) night.

Yao Ming-owned Sharks are former Chinese champions and they boast ex-National Basketball Association (NBA) player Jimmer Fredette in their line-up.

But the Slingers, who are representing Singapore, ran their opponents close for more than half of the game. Despite trailing at the breaks, the Slingers clawed back to level the score at 45-45 midway through the third quarter.

In the end, the Sharks ran away with the victory. Fredette and Gurschon Yabusele sunk 29 points each, while the Slingers' American imports Xavier Alexander and Justin Howard scored 20 and 19 points respectively.

Despite the loss, coach Neo Beng Siang felt that it was a creditable performance by his charges for most of the game.

He said: "I am happy with their fighting spirit. Although they were down, they kept on fighting and that's what we want to see of them more often."

But he pointed out that he was not happy about the manner in which their resistance collapsed at the end.

Neo said: "They were not really playing as a team, everyone wasn't sharing the ball and they held the ball for too long individually. For the fourth quarter, in the last eight minutes, they (the Sharks) pulled away with the score and they were not running back as a team so they had almost given up."

The Slingers will face Filipino side Mighty Sports inthe semi-final of the six-team invitational tournament on Saturday night at the OCBC Arena.