SINGAPORE - The Singapore Slingers will do well to shed their Jekyll-and-Hyde performances and be more consistent if they want to make it to the Asean Basketball League (ABL) play-offs.
Too often in games this season, they have either opened up big leads only to throw it away at the end, or start slow and play catch-up later on.
On Sunday (Feb 10), it was a case of the former as Slingers coach Neo Beng Siang cut a frustrating figure on the touchline during the "nightmare" second half of the ABL match against the Saigon Heat at the OCBC Arena.
Leading by 23 points at half-time, the Slingers almost threw it away in the second half before Neo called a timeout with four minutes left in the fourth quarter to galvanise his troops, who then pulled themselves together to close out a 76-70 victory.
"The second half was a nightmare for us because we weren't playing together as a team. We were trying to push through every shot and that basically killed us on offence," said Neo.
"We had a 23-point lead at half-time so I emphasised that they have to find the same energy and effort because our offence was not doing well and we lacked that on the defensive end, too."
Sharp shooting and dynamic players saw the Slingers burst out of the blocks to lead 24-19 after the first quarter before holding the Heat to a mere five points in the second as they took a commanding 47-24 lead into half-time.
But it all went awry for the Singapore side in the second half as the players misplaced passes and kept slipping all over the court. Instead of playing as a team, they were each trying to score on their own.
The Heat limited the Slingers to just 13 points in the third quarter as they reduced the deficit to 60-45.
The Vietnamese outfit continued to pile on the pressure in the last quarter and, at one point, they trailed by only seven points at 69-62.
It was Neo's timely intervention which saw the Slingers get their act together and hold on for the win.
Slingers guard Jerran Young top-scored with 21 points, while his fellow American imports John Fields and Xavier Alexander contributed 16 and 15 points respectively.
Forward Delvin Goh also had a strong game for the Slingers, scoring 12 points - 10 in the first half - and pulling down 13 rebounds.
He said: "I think we came out with the mindset to win this game so the effort was really there. For the next game, we want to do the same."
With the win, the Slingers leapfrogged the Heat into third place in the 10-team ABL standings. Their next game is against Malaysia Dragons on Feb 22 in Kuala Lumpur.
Neo said: "We definitely want the win, but we have to take care of our own business by playing good defence, running the floor and playing together as a team.