With less than two minutes remaining in their first match against the Hong Kong Eastern Long Lions, the Singapore Slingers had complete control. They were en route to their fourth victory and thought it would be okay to put their foot off the gas pedal.
Last season’s finalist apparently underestimated the grit and determination of the newcomers from Hong Kong and they paid for it dearly.
“I was very disappointed by the last one and a half minutes [in regulation],” said Singapore head coach Neo Ben Siang. “We were up by 13 and we played as individuals. We didn’t get the calls, but we didn’t get back on defense and we gave up four threes in a row to get into overtime.”
For last season’s Coach of the Year awardee, the Slingers forgot what their team was about during the run by the Long Lions.
“When we get ourselves [in these kind of situations], we need to keep on doing what we’re supposed to do. We need to take advantage under the basket, sending the ball in, and feeding the post, play as a team rather than individuals,” he added.
“Hopefully we can learn from this game and bounce back in the next game at home. So we’ll be positive and keep working rather than put our heads down with everyone losing confidence.”
World import Xavier Alexander echoed his coach’s call to keep things calm.
“It’s early, only the fourth game of the season. Nobody won a championship. We’re gonna go back and see what happens. Look at the game and learn from it,” he said.
Minutes after the game, Alexander already had ideas on what exactly went wrong for Singapore in the end game.
They upped their intensity, and we might not have had the chance to respond, whatever the case may be. They hit a lot of key threes in the last two minutes and a half,” Alexander said. “Give credit to them, they won the game.”
Xavier’s fellow World import Justin Howard had a monster game with 39 points and 27 rebounds could only shake his head and imagine what could have been.
“We had the game in our hands, we just didn’t get the rebounds we needed to get. We had turnovers. We did what we had to do, but we just didn’t make the right plays in the end,” Howard said. “[We need to learn] how to make the small plays and how to finish up. We didn’t do what we needed to do, so let’s go back to work and try to learn from this and put it behind us.”
The Slingers won’t have to wait long before they let their frustrations out on the basketball court once more as they’ll be facing Alab Pilipinas at home on December 18.