Remember Last Season: No Room for Complacency as Slingers Gear Up for Game 2

The Singapore Slingers had every reason to feel good about themselves after they defeated the Hong Kong Eastern Long Lions in Game 1 of the ASEAN Basketball League (ABL) Finals. However, immediately after the win, Singapore head coach Neo Beng Siang reminded his team to keep their composure and focus as they have not won anything yet.

Still in their search for the first ABL championship, the Slingers repeated what they did last year as they stole the homecourt advantage away from their top-seeded foes in Game 1. The Slingers also know how quickly things can turn sour.

After beating the Westports Malaysia Dragons in last season’s Finals Game 1, the Slingers fell flat in Game 2, perhaps thinking that all they needed was one win in Kuala Lumpur as they could close it out at home by winning Games 3 and 4. However, their struggles from Game 2 crept into the next game as the Dragons won back-to-back games to get the homecourt advantage back. Singapore managed to extend the series as Wong Wei Long hit a buzzer-beating game winner but there was simply no denying Westports Malaysia from winning it all in Game 5.

“The key for us is to remain composed and humble,” said Singapore’s coach. “We also won Game 1 last year but we did not have the right focus in Game 2. Hong Kong Eastern is a very strong team and they’ll do everything to win Game 2 so we have to be ready.”

Initially, Singapore starting forward Delvin Goh was only allowed to be with the Slingers for Game 1 because he’s currently serving in the military. However, because they know just how important the second game is, Goh applied for another leave and luckily it was granted.

Goh’s numbers in Game 1 were not eye-popping. He only had 2 points but added 5 rebounds, 3 assists, a steal, and a block. For Singapore’s coaching staff, these were important numbers as anything they could get from the locals helps.

“The key for us has always been our defense,” said the head coach. “It’s good that we scored 92 points but limiting the Long Lions to 76 was more important to us.”

Singapore played a very tight rotation in the opening quarter. However, when their defense waned coach Neo inserted fresh legs in the game. Desmond Oh, Larry Liew, and Ng Hanbin all had playing time and although they did not stay on the floor for long, they were able to inject new energy into the Slingers defense while giving their main rotation players some rest.

“We don’t need reminders of what happened last year,” explained Xavier Alexander last year. “Losing in the finals was the biggest reason why me and Justin (Howard) came back to Singapore. We wanted to make up for it. We’ve worked hard throughout this season because we want to wi a championship. We all remember how painful last year’s experience was and will do everything we can not to let it happen again.”