Alexander leads Slingers rebound

Slingers centre Anthony McClain dunking while Alab Pilipinas’ Jeremiah Gray looks on at the OCBC Arena. Like Xavier Alexander, he was not happy with his previous outing and responded with 18 points yesterday.
Slingers centre Anthony McClain dunking while Alab Pilipinas’ Jeremiah Gray looks on at the OCBC Arena. Like Xavier Alexander, he was not happy with his previous outing and responded with 18 points yesterday.ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE
Xavier Alexander
Xavier Alexander

Forward responds to 'worst performance' with triple-double effort to end losing streak

An angry Xavier Alexander took out his frustrations on the visiting Alab Pilipinas as he led the Singapore Slingers to a one-sided 85-64 win yesterday.

The 31-year-old American managed just nine points in Wednesday's Asean Basketball League (ABL) home defeat by Saigon Heat and called it his "worst performance in a Slingers shirt".

He responded with 31 points, 12 assists, 10 rebounds and eight steals, while drawing 12 fouls against Alab at the OCBC Arena.

He said: "That last game really angered me and turned me on. I realised that there is this whole community and team that are riding on my back and I cannot let them down like I did.

"It's got to start with me. This is the game we can play. We cannot be too worried about offence because if we hang our hats on defence, everything will take care of itself."

His aggression and desire rubbed off on his teammates as the Slingers ended their three-game losing run in front of 2,000 spectators.

Despite being 13cm shorter than opposing Alab centre Samuel Deguara, the Slingers' 2.13m-tall Anthony McClain showed his post prowess and dominated his duel with Deguara.

McClain, who thrilled the crowd with seven blocks to add to his 18 points and 13 rebounds, said: "I wasn't happy with myself for the last game. I was allowing opponents to shoot and could have been more aggressive.

"I wanted to come out hard and be real physical against Sam, instead of playing nervous. Miss or make, we have to play defence and believe in each other. In all our previous losses, we had the lead in the second half of the games, so we definitely have got potential. We just got to play four complete quarters."

Marcus Elliot hit three treys in the final quarter to finish with 19 points while Delvin Goh added five points and 10 rebounds and fellow forward Leon Kwek chipped in with seven points.

Slingers coach Neo Beng Siang could even afford to give game time to local bench players Lavin Raj, John Ng and Ng Shi Yu.

BOUNCE BACK ON MY BACK

That last game really angered me and turned me on. I realised that there is this whole community and team that are riding on my back and I cannot let them down like I did.

XAVIER ALEXANDER, Slingers forward, on their last defeat prompting his improved showing.

In their previous clash with Alab last month, the Slingers conceded 40 points in the final 10 minutes to lose 90-83. This time, they were able to contain Khalif Wyatt, limiting the Alab guard to seven points (he scored 28 in the last encounter). They also restricted Alab's long-range shooting. The visitors made just four three-pointers, down from the 12 when they last beat the Slingers.

Neo said: "We held individual talks with the imports and some of the local players after our last loss to let them know what is expected of them.

"Alab are a strong team but we managed to lock them down and only Sam got into double-figures (with 14 points). This is the kind of performance we want from the team. The imports stepped up and we want them to be consistent. The locals must also realise they can play an important role and not just bonus court time.

"We are happy to beat a strong team but the season is still long. We want to continue to set the tempo and make the right decisions in the upcoming games."

The Slingers improved to 2-4 and next travel to face the Macau Black Bears on Thursday.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 13, 2020, with the headline 'Alexander leads Slingers rebound'. Print Edition | Subscribe