Slingers succumb to another late slump
The Singapore side pay for lack of patience in last quarter in surprise defeat
|SINGAPORE SLINGERS||SAIGON HEAT|
The Singapore Slingers' worrying habit of fading away late came back to haunt them yesterday, as they crashed to a 75-73 defeat by visitors Saigon Heat at the OCBC Arena yesterday.
Apart from the first five minutes, the Slingers had led visitors Saigon Heat for practically the entire match, and this was precisely why the loss was a bitter pill to swallow for Neo Beng Siang's men.
Somehow, they contrived to give up a six-point advantage in the final quarter, with Mitchell Folkoff's failed three-point attempt after the buzzer encapsulating the team's failures.
"We have to learn how to finish games; it's been hard on us the whole season," said Slingers swingman Xavier Alexander, who scored a team-high of 31 points.
"I think we just need to be more patient down the stretch and not rush.
"I don't think it's nerves; I definitely think it's just the lack of execution. Down the stretch when the (opposing) team are pressuring us we are usually forced into bad shots.
"So we should take our time and get the shot that we want."
While both teams struggled in the opening stages to find their rhythm, the Slingers seemed to settle down quicker, with imports Alexander and Justin Howard shining for the home side.
Returning from a recent toe injury, centre Howard was unmatched in rebounds at both ends - 11 offensive and 12 defensive - but was found wanting in shot-making in the last quarter, when the 2.11m-tall American was often crowded out under the basket.
Leon Kwek was the highest-scoring local player with eight points, while the likes of Delvin Goh, Desmond Oh and Wong Wei Long needed time to get into the game.
This was especially the case with Saigon's big-sized imports Lenny Daniel (2.03m), Moses Morgan (1.98m) and Jordan Henriquez (2.14m) often thwarting the Slingers' advances to the basket.
Slingers coach Neo said: "Defensively, we couldn't execute our one-on-one containment properly.
"But we lost because we shot badly today; we were 0-11 from the three-point line, and it's the first time (this has happened).
"If we don't get our own game going, we will struggle big time against anyone."
The Slingers have three more games left in the regular season - a home tie against Kaohsiung Truth next Sunday, and home and away games against Saigon.
Neo is keen to win their remaining matches to head into the play-offs as runners-up.
"We need to secure second spot, so we need to win the three games, because now we are tied with Alab Pilipinas with six losses each.
"These remaining games will be very important for us."
We have to learn how to finish games; it’s been hard on us the whole seasonSlingers swingman Xavier Alexander