Playing for the 3rd Place ranking in the Merlion Cup for a second consecutive year, the Singapore Slingers were unable to overcome shooting woes. Their loss came at the hands of KCC Egis, 78-68.
KCC Egis were led by the trio of Kim Ji-Hoo, Park Kyung-Sang, and import Charles Rhodes who each put in 18 points.
Home team Singapore Slingers got a big game from Ryan Wright (17 points, 13 rebounds) as well as Delvin Goh (11 points, 5 rebounds).
The Slingers were treated to a surprise when KCC Egis shifted they roster from the usual rotation from the start. Star local Ha Seung-Jin and Import Andre Emmett were not suiting up for the game and the Korean club would instead be starting Charles Rhodes who had not suited up prior to this game.
Rhodes had a strong start, scoring 8 points for Egis in the first quarter despite still looking a bit rusty. The Slingers matched that with a strong contribution from their own import, Xavier Alexander. Egis started going deep into their bench and even rested star win Song Kyo-Chang midway through the first quarter. Despite the rotation, Egis held a 19-12 lead at the end of the first quarter.
Things started looking bleak for the Slingers when Egis pulled out a 12-0 run early in the second half. Turnovers were plaguing the Slingers’ offense before Ryan Wright was able to lift them back up into the game. The Canadian import was scoreless in the first quarter, but put in 10 points in the second quarter highlighted by two soaring dunks. The Slingers continued to get their points in the paint but still struggled to keep Egis from scoring. The first half came to a close with Egis in the lead 39-31.
Xavier Alexander was slowed down by foul problems but came out on fire in the second half, scoring 5 points at the start. Wong Wei Long made a three-point shot to close the gap to 46-40 but KCC Egis raced out ahead once again. Kim Min Goo made his first points of the game on a shot-clock beating three-point shot to get Egis back up 54-42. Even as the Slingers roared back to within 7 points, Min Goo struck again by putting in a buzzer-beating layup to close the quarter, 59-50.
It seemed like nothing could stop KCC Egis as they raced out to a 20-point lead early in the final quarter. Kim Ji-Hoo nailed his 5th three-point shot of the game to make it a 74-54 game. During the final moments of the game, the Slingers attempted a frantic rally and never backed down. Ng Hanbin scored 7 straight points in the final minutes to get to within 78-68, but there was not enough time to get any closer than that for the home team.
The Slingers suffered another bad shooting game, an area which Coach Neo Beng Siang has emphasised that the team will need to work on.
“Well you just have to keep on working, nothing special and nothing secret about it,” Coach Neo says of how they aim to tackle their shooting woes. “Today towards the end, Hanbin gave us something. Hopefully he can maintain and build up confidence. Of course, practice makes perfect.”
“I’m pretty happy in the second and third quarter on our energy and effort,” Coach Neo said after the game. “This is what we really want to work on and get better. I think towards the end of the 4th quarter, we ran out of gas so we were not quite in position.”
“This is the preseason so we really need to work on our fitness.”
“The whole tournament, I hope that the players learn from playing against these good teams,” Coach Neo added. “Defense, diving for balls, hustle plays. Hopefully they can take that and build on it moving forward.”
The Singapore Slingers ended up in 4th place of the Merlion Cup for the second year running, while Jeonju KCC Egis claimed 3rd.
The Shanghai Sharks were unable to defend their title, losing in the championship game to the Adelaide 36ers, 101-81.