Basketball: Singapore Slingers disappoint in opening ABL loss to Alab Pilipinas

The Singapore Slingers' Xavier Alexander attempts a shot during the Asean Basketball League game against Alab Pilipinas at the Santa Rosa Sports Complex on Dec 15, 2019. PHOTO: ASEAN BASKETBALL LEAGUE

SINGAPORE - Familiar failures came back to haunt the Singapore Slingers as they slumped to a 90-83 defeat to Alab Pilipinas in their opening Asean Basketball League (ABL) fixture at the Santa Rosa Sports Complex on Sunday (Dec 15).

The visitors had begun the fourth quarter with a 59-50 lead but their defence collapsed as they allowed Alab to score a stunning 40 points and claim their second win of the season.

The Slingers' chief tormentor was Alab shooting guard Khalif Wyatt. He hit four three-pointers in the first five minutes of that decisive final quarter and eventually scored a game-high 28 points.

Slingers coach Neo Beng Siang said: "We're obviously disappointed with the loss but we have to give credit to Alab. They came back and shot pretty well in the last quarter.

"We played pretty good defence in the first three quarters, but (in the final quarter) the players [over-committed] too much at times.

"We needed to get ourselves up on defence because when we are up, we're not giving easy shots or easy threes, that's the way they can come back."

Slingers swingman Xavier Alexander led his side with 26 points and 10 rebounds but crucially missed half of his 12 free throw attempts and committed four turnovers.

Anthony McClain and Marcus Elliott had mixed debuts for the Slingers. The former, a 2.13m centre, had a decent outing with 25 points and 12 rebounds while the latter, who was the 2017 ABL World Import MVP, had an indifferent start with his new club.

Elliot managed just 11 points after connecting on just four of his 21 field goals, including going one-from-seven from beyond the arc.

The two local starters Delvin Goh and Leon Kwek had 12 and three points respectively.

The Slingers had been hoping to get off to a winning start after last season's disappointment where they came agonisingly close to their first ABL title, only to miss out after a 84-81 loss to CLS Knights Indonesia in ABL Finals title decider.

It was the third time in the last four campaigns that the Slingers finished as overall runners-up.

Neo however, was not unduly worried that Sunday's defeat was an omen of things to come this term.

It was their first game of the season, he said, and his team are still a work in progress.

He urged them though, to bounce back in their next game against Macau Wolf Warriors at the OCBC Arena next Sunday (Dec 22).

Neo said: "It doesn't really affect our confidence at the moment because it's our first game and we're looking forward to the home crowd.

"We definitely need to bounce back; that's the only key to give ourselves a win back home."

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