Slingers coach Neo wants fringe players to prove themselves
Neo wants his fringe players to prove themselves in last two games of regular season
|SINGAPORE SLINGERS||SAIGON HEAT|
They have no chance of finishing the season on top of the league, but they won't finish worse than second place.
With two games left in the regular Asean Basketball League season, Singapore Slingers coach Neo Beng Siang wants to give his fringe players in the 14-strong squad more playing time in a bid to widen his options for the upcoming play-offs.
With a 12-6 win-loss record, the Slingers have secured home-court advantage for the play-offs together with league leaders, the Hong Kong Eastern Long Lions (15-3).
Neo's men host Vietnamese side the Saigon Heat at the OCBC Arena in their second-last game Sunday afternoon and fringe players such as Leon Kwek, Mitchell Folkoff, Ng Han Bin and Josh Urbiztondo are expected to be given their chances to impress their coach.
"Whether we win both games or lose both, we will still finish second," Neo, whose team play the Saigon Heat in Ho Chi Minh in their last regular-season match next Saturday, told The New Paper yesterday.
"There's no chance for us to be top of the league anymore, but neither can we drop to third place (Alab Pilipinas, 9-9).
"What I want to do is to test out my bench players in the remaining matches of this season.
"It's good for me and, for them, it's good if they can get more court time to gain more confidence for the play-offs."
Barring injuries, Neo has fielded a consistent starting line-up comprising Xavier Alexander, Justin Howard, Wong Wei Long, Desmond Oh and Delvin Goh this season.
The main men are Alexander and Howard, who collected a second triple-double of the season and scored the most points respectively in the 76-52 home victory over the Kaohsiung Truth last Sunday.
For tomorrow's game, Neo wants his players to focus on basics and carry out what they have been working on in training.
He said: "For tomorrow's game, it really doesn't matter how many points the boys can score.
"I just want them to focus on the game, go back to the basics and lock down Saigon's key players.
I just want them to focus on the game, go back to the basics and lock down Saigon's key players.Singapore Slingers coach Neo Beng Siang
"Whether or not they can get game-high points, it's not important to me."
And the coach is prepared to promote some of the fringe players to the starting line-up in the play-offs if he feels they are up to the task.
"There can be changes to the starting five (for the play-offs), depending on how they perform during training and in the next two matches," he said.