Fading Slingers miss Saigon plot

Slingers centre Anthony McClain attempting to score in the face of suffocating defence by the Saigon Heat. He finished with 11 points, 13 rebounds and five blocks but the Heat's Christien Charles won the battle of the big men with 25 points and 13 re
Slingers centre Anthony McClain attempting to score in the face of suffocating defence by the Saigon Heat. He finished with 11 points, 13 rebounds and five blocks but the Heat's Christien Charles won the battle of the big men with 25 points and 13 rebounds. ST PHOTO: ARIFFIN JAMAR

Singapore side undone by Heat's late 10-0 run, mired in worst run since 2013

After watching the Singapore Slingers slump to their fourth defeat in five Asean Basketball League games yesterday, four-time National Basketball Association All-Star Rolando Blackman told Slingers forward Xavier Alexander: "You guys have a great team, you just need to enjoy your basketball."

But the Slingers are finding it hard to do that at the moment, as they were beaten 79-73 by Saigon Heat at OCBC Arena last night. This is the first time they have lost three straight games since 2013.

After their third game in five days, forward Delvin Goh refused to use fatigue as an excuse, instead calling for more commitment.

He said: "In every game, we had the lead at some point in the second half and could have won. But we need to have more discipline because we are not playing as a team at the moment. We are making too many mistakes and we are not consistent through all four quarters."

Slingers guard Marcus Elliott burst out of the blocks with 10 points, including two treys, and seven rebounds as the hosts led 22-15 after the opening period.

They built a 27-17 advantage, but went off the boil as former Slinger Christien Charles returned to haunt them.

The 2.16m centre won the battle with big man Anthony McClain to tally 25 points and 13 rebounds.

He also imposed himself psychologically by frequently bunching up the ends of the home net, but the 38-year-old insisted there were no "mind games".

"I'm just reaching for the nearest thing to wipe my sweaty palms," he said. "I never thought about it as mind games, but I can't control what others think.

"We won not because of that, but it was because we were hungry and helped each other out in defence."

The Slingers' local players Leon Kwek (15 points) and Goh (14 points, nine rebounds, five assists) stepped up to support Elliott (20 points, 16 rebounds) and McClain (11 points, 13 rebounds, five blocks), but the Slingers could not score when it mattered.

Kwek gave the Slingers a 66-64 lead with five minutes left, but they started missing shots as the Heat went on a 10-0 run that proved fatal.

"I have never had such a bad game in my five years here," said Alexander, who had nine points and nine rebounds.

"I have got to be better all round because the guys look to me for inspiration, energy and leadership, and I feel I let them down.

"But if anybody thinks we will continue like this, they are crazy. We cannot be hanging our heads when things go wrong. We believe in one another and we will turn things around."

The Slingers will host Alab Pilipinas (5-2) on Sunday.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 09, 2020, with the headline 'Fading Slingers miss Saigon plot'. Print Edition | Subscribe