Slingers downed at home in overtime
Wong misses crucial free-throw that would have sealed win over Alab Pilipinas
|SINGAPORE SLINGERS||ALAB PILIPINAS|
He is a two-time Asean Basketball League local Most Valuable Player, who has bailed out the Singapore Slingers on so many occasions with his clutch shots.
Not yesterday evening though.
Point guard Wong Wei Long had already drained a three-pointer - the Slingers' first of the match - with one minute left in the fourth quarter to help reduce what had been a seven-point deficit and close the gap to 54-55 on the Alab Pilipinas at the OCBC Arena.
With just one second on the clock, he then drew a foul from Jeric Fortuna.
Make both free-throws and the Slingers would be home and hosed.
Oh, how the home crowd drowned the vociferous Filipino fans when he sank the first free-throw.
But it wasn't to be as Wong then got his posture all wrong and missed the second from the charity stripe to send the match into overtime.
The Slingers could still have won in the extra period, and led by as many as three points.
With 26.4 seconds left, they were ahead by 62-61. But, Wong missed a three-point attempt before going on to foul Sampson Carter in a three-point play for the visitors.
Still, the Slingers had 19.9 seconds to take it to double overtime, but Leon Kwek was stripped of the ball by Jens Knuttel and the hosts lost 64-62 and slipped to 10-4.
With the Hong Kong Eastern Long Lions beating the Westports Malaysia Dragons 96-87 yesterday to improve their record to 8-2, Neo Beng Siang's side need help from the Asean Basketball League's other four teams to keep their hopes of finishing top alive.
There was no doubt Wong's missed free-throw had cost the Slingers dear.
He said: "I just wanted to make both throws. I was too impatient and missed the second shot.
"It is so disappointing to lose this way, but now, we have to focus on improving, not making the same mistakes, and winning our next game."
Slingers coach Neo added: "It all came down to how we handled the pressure, and we didn't.
"Even in OT, we had the lead, but we did not execute our defence well.
"Our 30 per cent shooting percentage from field goals was horrible. We were two-of-16 in terms of three-pointers and these statistics should be our lowest so far this season."
The Slingers' big American Justin Howard was easily the topscorer with 28 points and 15 rebounds, and fellow centre Delvin Goh pumped in 10 points and six rebounds, but they received little back-up from their teammates.
Swingman Xavier Alexander did well to stay on the court after committing three fouls before the second quarter was up but made just one basket from 13 field-goal attempts.
Captain Desmond Oh failed to score, while Ng Hanbin (five points), Leon Kwek (four), Wong (four) and Rolando Gardner (two) did not step up.
Neo, however, remained defiant.
"The most important thing now is to focus on our remaining games.
"We want to finish the regular season with six wins from six," he said.
The Slingers will have to do so without injured forwards Wu Qingde (knee) and Mitchell Folkoff (shoulder) as they play their next game away at Kaohsiung Truth on Sunday.