Neo's gamble pays off as Slingers end losing skid
He was called for a fourth personal foul right at the end of the third period in yesterday's Asean Basketball League (ABL) match against the Formosa Dreamers, putting Singapore Slingers power forward Delvin Goh just one offence away from fouling out.
Some coaches might have opted to take him off and save him for the final minutes of the last quarter, but Slingers coach Neo Beng Siang took a bold decision and kept the 23-year-old on court at the Changhua County Stadium in Taiwan.
The gamble proved a masterstroke as Goh contributed three points from a lay-up and a free-throw, as well as one steal and one offensive rebound in four minutes before he committed his fifth foul on Malcolm Miller.
By then, the damage was already done as the Slingers opened the final quarter with a 9-0 run to extend their lead to 15 points, and they eventually won 88-80 to end their two-game losing skid.
Neo said: "We needed Delvin's rebounds at both ends and he did a good job, so it (keeping him on court) was worth it.
"I'm happy and proud everyone played good defence and stayed disciplined against a good team and a tough away crowd."
While the Slingers (6-3) remain fourth in the 10-team ABL, they inflicted a first home loss on third-placed Dreamers, and exacted some form of revenge for the 77-73 reverse at the OCBC Arena in November.
It was not just Neo and Goh who displayed courage and decisiveness.
Dreamers' American centre Will Artino landed heavily on his ankle after making a basket in the third quarter and had to receive treatment in the locker room, but showed great resilience to return to the court after just two minutes.
Slingers' shooting guard Ng Hanbin was not so fortunate after being knocked in the knee by Kenneth Chien in the same period.
Up to that point, Ng was the best shooter in the arena as he converted five of seven field-goal attempts, including four successful three-pointers.
This win is a morale-booster for the Slingers as they tackle four games in eight days. They play Hong Kong Eastern and Zhuhai Wolf Warriors on Wednesday (Jan 9) and Friday (Jan 11) respectively, before facing Mono Vampire at home on Sunday(Jan 13) .
Neo said: "We gave them a few days off in the festive season and we have confidence in our pre-season work and we will be making sure the players have the best recovery they can have in between games."