Basketball: Defence key for Slingers to progress in ABL play-offs, say coach Neo and skipper Oh

The Singapore Slingers' swingman Xavier Alexander on the offensive against Mono Vampire in their last regular-season game on March 24, 2019 but defence will be important during the ABL play-offs.
The Singapore Slingers' swingman Xavier Alexander on the offensive against Mono Vampire in their last regular-season game on March 24, 2019 but defence will be important during the ABL play-offs.ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

SINGAPORE - A solid defence helped the Singapore Slingers beat the Macau Black Bears in both their Asean Basketball League (ABL) regular-season games this season.

And Slingers captain Desmond Oh believes they have to keep it tight at the back if they are to continue their winning run against the same opponents in Game One of the play-off quarter-finals at the OCBC Arena on Sunday (March 31).

"A main part of our game is our defence and we believe that is what helps us win games," the 32-year-old told the Sunday Times.

"Everyone can score but, if we can stop them from getting points and we can attack and score, we have the advantage."

Slingers coach Neo Beng Siang is also looking at strengthening that area, after defensive collapses in previous games.

He said: "In such a short time, it's pretty tough to suddenly get better but at least they can focus on maintaining their consistency.

"It's up to them to stop thinking about individual goals and start thinking of how to win the game."

The Slingers finished third in the 10-team ABL with a 16-10 win-loss record, behind Formosa Dreamers (19-7) and Alab Pilipinas (18-8), to gain home-court advantage in the best-of-three quarter-finals.

Their away game will be on Thursday (April 4) and the decider - if needed - will be at Kallang next Sunday (April 7).

Oh added that the Slingers also need to work on their communication and stopping the Black Bears' counter-attacks.

He said: "Their three imports are their key players so if we are able to stop any of them, we should be fine.

"We also need to improve on our consistency because I feel that sometimes when we are winning, we get complacent and end up losing our lead."

Oh also highlighted the importance of the home crowd in spurring the players on.

He said: "It's the fans and all our family members who come and support us. With their cheering, I believe that everyone will fight even harder for them."