Slingers set for do-or-die contest against Pilipinas
Slingers look to book finals spot as injury-hit Pilipinas prepare for do-or-die contest
|ALAB PILIPINAS||SINGAPORE SLINGERS|
The Alab Pilipinas may be suffering from injuries, but Singapore Slingers coach Neo Beng Siang knows how wounded opponents can be more dangerous.
The Slingers hold a 1-0 lead ahead of today's clash at the Baliwag Star Arena in Bulacan and a win in the best-of-three Asean Basketball League play-off semi-finals will see them advance to the Grand Finals.
They will fancy their chances against the hosts, who could be missing star player Bobby Ray Parks Jr and fellow guard Jeric Fortuna, while forward Lawrence Domingo is also recovering from a concussion sustained in the 77-67 Game 1 defeat in Singapore last Sunday.
Win, and the Slingers will prepare for the best-of-five finals for the second successive season. Lose, and it will come down to a deciding Game 3 at the OCBC Arena on Sunday.
Neo is obviously keen for his men to get the job done tonight.
In contrast to Alab's woes, the Slingers were handed a boost when centre Delvin Goh received the green light from his national service unit to travel for the match last night.
Neo said: "If the seedings hold and Hong Kong Eastern Long Lions beat Saigon Heat, the finals will start on April 15, so we want to finish off the semi-finals as soon as possible and have ample days to recover.
"However, we cannot be complacent. They may have injuries but they also have cover.
"Regardless of who is in or out , I want us to focus on what we have to do. I'm more concerned about preparing our team to go out playing like they did in Game 1.
"We played well but we can still do better.
"For example, we expected them to focus more on Justin Howard, but he can still shoot better than his four for 14 field-goal percentage.
... we cannot be complacent. They may have injuries but they also have cover.Singapore Slingers coach Neo Beng Siang
"I also want Joshua Urbiztondo to organise the offence better, and our local roster to step up as a whole.
"As for Delvin, it's good to have more height in our team.
"He did well at both ends in Game 1, and if the opponents focus more on our imports, he will have more space to finish off at the rim."
For Alab, it is simply a "do-or-die" match.
While he could well be sending a couple of wounded warriors, Alab coach Mac Cuan was unfazed, and said: "It will be the next man up.
"Without sounding cocky or overconfident, I honestly don't think Singapore can beat us if we play to our full potential.
"We have to do a good job on Howard, but we also have to focus on stopping Xavier Alexander.
"We had a game plan in Game 1 but we deviated from it. We let Alexander score 24 points. The plan was to challenge his shots but we did not close out on him."
If Parks misses out, Cuan will look to newly acquired Philippines international Kiefer Ravena to work his magic after a solid 16-point debut in Singapore.
"I was happy with how he adjusted with the team despite him able to practise with us only three times," said Cuan.
"It's really about our locals stepping up and our shooters must hit their open shots so Singapore's defence cannot collapse on us.
"We just have to focus. There's really no room for mistakes, especially now that this is a do-or-die game."