We will seal it at home: Coach Neo

Xavier Alexander followed up his 25 points in last Sunday's win (left) by top scoring with 27 last night against the Black Bears. But on the whole, the Slingers did not play to their potential last night.
Xavier Alexander followed up his 25 points in last Sunday's win (left) by top scoring with 27 last night against the Black Bears. But on the whole, the Slingers did not play to their potential last night.ST PHOTO: KHALID BABA

He says Slingers have themselves to blame for bad 2nd half in narrow loss to Black Bears

ABL PLAY-OFFS

Macau Black Bears 80

Singapore Slingers 78

(Quarter-final series tied at 1-1)

The Singapore Slingers suffered heartbreak in a last-gasp 80-78 loss to the Macau Black Bears in Game Two of their Asean Basketball League (ABL) play-offs quarter-final yesterday.

But coach Neo Beng Siang is still confident that his team will make it to the semi-finals for the fourth time in five seasons.

With 25.7 seconds left in the fourth quarter, the score was tied at 78-78 after ABL all-time top scorer Xavier Alexander missed a crucial free throw.

In the next possession, Black Bears captain Mikhael Mckinney dribbled past the Slingers defence to produce a stunning lay-up and seal the win. The result also forced a deciding Game Three at the OCBC Arena on Sunday.

"I hope they will be mentally prepared (for the decider), but I'm still very confident we will win the game at home and advance to the semi-finals," Neo said of his players.

The Slingers, who had beaten the Black Bears 102-91 in Game One last Sunday, raced to a 13-7 lead at the Foshan International Sports and Cultural Centre in Guangdong, China, but the Black Bears fought back to trail 22-21 at the end of the first quarter.

The Macau team then surged into a 26-24 lead in the second quarter before Mckinney picked up his third personal foul, limiting his playing time.

STILL IN OUR HANDS

I hope they will be mentally prepared (for the decider on Sunday), but I'm still very confident we will win the game at home and advance to the semi-finals.

NEO BENG SIANG, Slingers coach, on blowing their chances in Game Two and needing a decider.

The Slingers took advantage of his absence to score six points before extending their lead to 37-32 at half-time.

But playmaker Mckinney managed to stay out of foul trouble in the second half, leading the Black Bears' quick attacks as they outscored the Slingers 27-23 in the third quarter to reduce their deficit to just one point.

It was neck and neck in the fourth quarter as the teams exchanged leads before Mckinney drove through in the dying seconds to score the winning basket.

Alexander top-scored for the Slingers with 27 points, followed by fellow American Jerran Young (19). Their compatriot John Fields managed just 14 points, a far cry from the 31 he scored in Game One.

Neo said his team will be working on improving their shooting accuracy as they converted only 38 per cent of their field-goal attempts.

"We're not shooting well mid-range and outside the circle," he said.

"We're not getting enough defensive rebounds and giving them the opportunity to get back into the game.

"Overall, I'm pretty disappointed with the performance. We did well in the first half, but we fell apart in the second half. I think we lost to ourselves."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 05, 2019, with the headline 'We will seal it at home: Coach Neo'. Print Edition | Subscribe