The Singapore Slingers will start their ABL semifinal duel at home against Hong Kong Eastern as they attempt to make it back to the big dance after being absent last season. As the top team left standing in the field of four, the Slingers will have home-court advantage for the rest of their playoff stint and they will definitely need the added push from their fans as they face off against a confident foe.
Hong Kong Eastern was the most dominant team in the ABL quarterfinals as they eliminated defending champion San Miguel Alab Pilipinas. It took a gusty win in Cebu and a dominant performance at home for the former ABL champions to move forward and set up a collision against the team they had to beat to be crowned champions.
Singapore is coming off a tough series against the Macau Black Bears when they had to overcome anxious moments, specially in Game 3, when Xavier Alexander fouled out. However, they managed to pull through and move forward.
“When X fouled out, we just stuck together as a team. We knew that as long as we did the work on the defensive end,” said Singapore head coach Neo Beng Siang. This would be the same theme for them against Hong Kong Eastern. Macau has a couple of talented scorers in Mikh McKinney and Dewarick Spencer and now they will have to deal with Marcus Elliott and O’Darien Spencer. The big difference is that Hong Kong Eastern is loaded with good local shooters in Lee Ki, Chan Siu Wing, and Lau Tsz Lai, which will really stretch out the Slingers’ defense.
“Hong Kong Eastern is a good team and they beat us twice in the season but we’re a much different team now,” said Singapore’s coach.
In their two meetings late December and early January, the Slingers lost 92-89 and 88-81 but Singapore ended up finishing with a 16-10 win-loss tally for the third spot while Hong Kong Eastern ended up at the seventh spot with a 13-13 record.
However, all of those numbers are now on hindsight as the semifinal series will surely draw the best from both teams.
Alexander will b a key figure for Singpaore as he is the heart and soul of the team, capable of providing a triple-double with any given game. John Fields has improved by leaps and bounds after a slow start to the season while Jerran Young has had explosive performances throughout the season.
Delvin Goh and Ng Hanbin will have to provide scoring punch from the locals in this series because their Hong Kong counterparts will surely bring it as well. However, the most important local could be Desmond Oh for Singapore as his defense will be crucial in what Singapore is trying to accomplish.
“I always emphasize on team defense and one-on-one containment,” said Singapore’s head coach. “We have trust in our players and their capability to follow our game plan. If we stick together, I think there’s a good chance we’ll pick up a win.”