Basketball: Singapore Slingers pay price for wayward shooting from foul line as they fall to holders Alab Pilipinas

Singapore Slingers’ Delvin Goh finding a way through during their home loss to the Alab Pilipinas last season. He had six points in their 77-71 defeat on Dec 23, 2018, which meant they ended the year with a two-match losing run.
Singapore Slingers’ Delvin Goh finding a way through during their home loss to the Alab Pilipinas last season. He had six points in their 77-71 defeat on Dec 23, 2018, which meant they ended the year with a two-match losing run.ST FILE PHOTO

Teams mostly evenly matched but hosts win game thanks to strong second quarter

SINGAPORE - On Friday (Dec 21), the Singapore Slingers drew level against Hong Kong Eastern in the very last second of play, before eventually losing 92-89 in double overtime at the OCBC Arena.

Neo Beng Siang's men came close to forcing overtime again on Sunday night (Dec 23) against Asean Basketball League (ABL) defending champions and leaders Alab Pilipinas at the Caloocan Sports Complex in Manila, but ran out of steam to lose 77-71.

With the defeat, the Singapore side ended the year with an unwanted two-game losing run, while the hosts extended their winning streak to four games to cement their lead at the top of the 10-team league.

Alab were in control the entire match, with the Slingers leading for a total of 90 seconds in the first quarter.

While the hosts led throughout all four quarters, they arguably won the game in the second quarter when they outscored the visitors 21-13 to go into half-time with a 43-31 advantage.

The Slingers had trouble finding space under the basket, with Alab's twin towers of P.J. Ramos (2.20m) and Renaldo Balkman (2.03m) the pillars in defence.

In the second quarter, the 1.96m Xavier Alexander, after stealing possession from the middle of the court, charged towards the basket, only to bounce off Ramos, who barely had to jump.

Coach Neo said: "He (Ramos) is really big and he played really well tonight with some good shots.

"We had to adapt, to slow down our game and to take more shots from the outside."

The Slingers gave themselves a fighting chance in the third quarter, outscoring their opponents 24-19 to reduce the deficit to 62-55.

But they could not sustain the momentum in the final period, especially with Ramos contributing a total of 26 points, including three three-pointers.

Forward Alexander - who led the team with 25 points against Eastern - struggled with 10 points against Alab, although he contributed 11 rebounds and 11 assists.

Centre John Fields filled the gap with a game-leading 35 points, while forward Jerran Young chipped in with 17 points and 12 rebounds.

Neo said: "We started pretty slow and fell behind too much in the first half. We switched from man-marking to zonal defence in the second half, and our energy also picked up in the second half, which I was pretty pleased about. Overall, we shot quite badly tonight, the free throws really killed us."

While the hosts were 10 for 11 in free throws, the Slingers converted half of their 22 shots from the line, with Alexander scoring just one of his seven attempts.

The Slingers will get a week's break before resuming training on Dec 30 for their away encounter against the Formosa Dreamers on Jan 6, and Neo believes his players will come back recharged after the break.

"The break will be good for us, especially the imports who have been playing a lot," Neo said.

"They will come back fresher for practice, and we will also find new plays. But they'd need to do more shooting practice as well, especially free throws."