On-fire Liew is Slingers' spark

After the Singapore Slingers failed to score in the first two minutes, Jerran Young hit his team's first nine points to end with a game-high 27 against Zhuhai Wolf Warriors yesterday at OCBC Arena.
After the Singapore Slingers failed to score in the first two minutes, Jerran Young hit his team's first nine points to end with a game-high 27 against Zhuhai Wolf Warriors yesterday at OCBC Arena.PHOTO: DIOS VINCOY JR FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

He scores six three-pointers in their fourth straight win but coach wants tighter defence

The Singapore Police Force regular had to report for duty on a Sunday, but, before Larry Liew did so, the shooting guard proved quite the marksman for the Singapore Slingers against the Zhuhai Wolf Warriors yesterday.

The 25-year-old top-scoring local was in hot form at the OCBC Arena, draining six of his eight three-point attempts for a career-high 18 points as the Slingers trounced the Asean Basketball League (ABL) cellar dwellers 99-77.

Slingers coach Neo Beng Siang said: "In a game where (Ng) Han Bin and Delvin (Goh) didn't really step up, Larry showed what he is capable of. I'm happy for him, but the target for our locals must be consistency."

Liew made a total of four treys in his previous three games, but had never converted more than 50 per cent of his shots. He credited yesterday's fine form to his teammates and his own extra shooting practice.

"My teammates did a great job to create space and open shots for me," he said. "If I missed, they would encourage me, and would scold me if I didn't shoot when I had the chance to. That gave me confidence to just shoot freely.

"We also spent more time on shooting in training this past week, which helped today."

The Slingers' American import Jerran Young was crucial in calming their nerves after they did not score in the opening two minutes. The 26-year-old hit his team's first nine points before finishing with a game-high 27 in an all-round display that included seven rebounds, four assists and six steals.

  • 75%

    Larry Liew's shooting percentage from three-point range as he hit six of eight against Zhuhai Wolf Warriors. Before yesterday, he had not reached 50 per cent accuracy this season.

With swingman Xavier Alexander (12 points, nine rebounds and 12 assists) and centre John Fields (19 points and 13 rebounds) dominating the paint, the visitors never stood a chance despite featuring former National Basketball Association champion Eddy Curry.

The 36-year-old former Miami Heat centre posted 11 points and 10 rebounds, while point guard Eric Tisby also contributed 23 points, but they were generally well-marshalled until the final quarter.

Neo acknowledged that a four-game winning run strengthens their hold on third place behind the Formosa Dreamers (6-0) and defending champions Alab Pilipinas, who got off to a winning start by beating CLS Knights Indonesia 94-67. But the former Singapore coach has demanded more from his players, insisting that they need to step up if they are to win a maiden ABL title.

He said: "We are happy with the win and momentum, but the energy level was not great and some players were sloppy as we let our opponents score 77. We took it too easy on our defensive end.

"We lost our opener against the Dreamers and defending champions Alab Pilipinas have just begun their season, so we need to improve and play with more intensity to stand a chance of winning the championship."

Liew added: "I'm sure our rivals have taken notice of us. It's good to go on a winning streak but we can still improve in our transition defence against fast breaks.

"We have a good blend of unselfish quality imports and locals who are stepping up. We just need to continue working hard on our strengths in our defence and I'm sure we will be making a strong push at the end of the season."

In yesterday's other matches, the Dreamers beat the Mono Vampire 71-66 while the Saigon Heat defeated the Malaysia Dragons 65-60.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 10, 2018, with the headline 'On-fire Liew is Slingers' spark'. Print Edition | Subscribe