Winners in three of their past four games, the Singapore Slingers are hoping to keep the momentum going as they go on the road again versus Hong Kong Eastern, Friday night at the Southorn Stadium in Wan Chai, Hong Kong.
After struggling at the start of the ABL’s 10th season, Singapore is now getting into a groove as they have moved up to a 4-5 win-loss tally. The Slingers are currently sitting at the seventh spot but the good news is that the teams ranked fourth to sixth are just at .500, a plateau Singapore can reach if they care of business against the former ABL champions.
Defense was still the name of the game for Singapore in their last victory against the Saigon Heat, 101-67, as they limited them to a paltry 34% shooting from the field. The Slingers only allowed them to score more than 20 points in the opening quarter then held them below 16 in the next three. Getting their groove on defense also gave them confidence on offense led by Marcus Elliott who dropped his season-high in scoring with 29 points on 12 of 23 shooting from the field. All of his fellow starters also notched double-digits in scoring with Xavier Alexander, Anthony McClain, and Delvin Goh all picking up double-doubles in points and rebounds.
Hong Kong Eastern is coming off a 97-80 loss to the Macau Black Bears in their last game. They have looked much better after the arrival of Brandis Raley-Ross but still have their inconsistencies. The point guard import usually averages around nine assists per game but he was limited to just four against the Black Bears as he was forced to take more shots with his fellow import Brandon Costner and Michal Holyfield bogged down offensively.
While Raley-Ross is an important cog of Hong Kong Eastern’s system, the Slingers defense needs to pay extra attention to Costner as his team plays so much better when he is engaged on offense. He had 35 and 30 points explosions against the Dragons and Wolf Warriors, respectively, but he has since slowed down, averaging only 16 points in their last four games on 34% shooting from the field.
Another area that Singapore should exploit is Hong Kong Eastern’s struggle when Holyfield gets into early foul trouble. With McClain beasting inside for the Slingers with 16.9 points and 14.2 rebounds per game, Hong Kong Eastern will have a hard time keeping up in the shaded area without the presence of Holyfield.
Alexander needs to continue his all-around brilliance as he remains to be the player that gets Singapore going. Averaging 20.3 points, 9.0 rebounds, and 6.6 assists in the game, his numbers might have taken a hit because of the entry of another dominant ball-handler in Elliott but the two have been figuring things out and are constantly looking for ways to make the Slingers better.
However, the attention of Hong Kong Eastern in this game will be focused on Elliott, their former World Import – MVP who led them to the championship in their maiden ABL season. A change in the coaching staff also signaled the end of Elliott’s stint in Hong Kong but Southorn holds a special place in the point guar’s heart as it was his house before. He might be norming ABL career lows of 19.4 points and 3.8. rebounds but this is just because he’s still trying to learn the ropes in Singapore’s system. Elliott will be surely given a warm welcome by his former teammates but he’ll go into the game with guns blazing.
The Slingers are only 1-3 n the road and they’ll need to pick things up heading into the midway mark of the regular season. For the safety of the public, the ABL also announced that Singapore versus Hong Kong Eastern will be a closed-door game.