By Ian Chew
Al Vegerra drives to the basket. (Photo 1 © Francis Espeleta)
Singapore Indoor Stadium, Sunday, December 7, 2008 – I think I get it.
The Slingers Challenge this season – a series of “friendly” matches played at the indoor stadium, is meant to showcase the skills of the Singapore Slingers against regional rivals. So far though, the Slingers are proving more than a match for the rest.
It was the same case against the visiting Indonesian basketball team Satria Muda Britama. Though league champions in their professional basketball league for the past three years, they were no match as the rampant Slingers whipped them 75-46 in front of 1,700 fans.
Fictor Roring, head coach of the Indonesian team, admitted as much.
“The Slingers are a few notches ahead of us in terms of basketball standards, being part of the National Basketball League (Australia) in the past. We are just glad to play the team for the experience gained,” he elaborated.
The Indonesians displayed their intention as much duing their game play against the Slingers. Taking full advantage of every possession, they slowed down the game and took shots only at the last ten seconds of every attacking opportunity. This tactic may have helped keep the score down, especially in the first half, but it sure made for frustrating viewing for the fans!
Yet the “slow-down” strategy threatened to pay dividends for the vastly outclassed visitors in the first half.
Despite facing an early 0-10 deficit, led by Slingers American Eric Sandrin with 8 points, the Indonesians rallied in the second quarter to outscore the Slingers 18-14. The Slingers could find no offensive rhythm in the second quarter, clearly frustrated with the visitor’s game play. The half ended a dismal 31-24 in the Slingers’ favour.
Perhaps a shelling by Slingers head coach Frank Arsego during the half-time break worked wonders. Or it could be that the Slingers refused to surrender their proud unbeaten record in the Slingers challenge this year without a fight. Regardless, the home team woke from their first half stupor to go an energetic 28-12 run in the third quarter.
Led by the ever dependable point guard Shane MacDonald who poured in 11 points in that quarter alone with red-hot shooting, the Slingers absolutely outran the visiting team with quick transition offense. Like a lion released from a cage, their movement and passing as a team was a joy to watch. Centre Sam Harris also contributed 6 points in the game-defining run. The Slingers team even found the luxury to indulge in some outrageous alley-oop plays in the quarter!
Game wrapped up, coach Frank then sent in some of the local boys for some match experience in the fourth quarter. In particular, new boy Tan Chin Hong who is still awaiting his ITE results, was ecstatic with his first points in his Slingers jersey. He scored with a jumper late in the fourth and celebrated with a fist pump, just like it was a game winning shot!
Asked if the Slingers were getting a reputation as a “third-quarter team”, an amused head coach Frank Arsego chose to focus on the positives.
“I think we want to play at a high intensity over the entire forty minutes of the game. Obviously we a bit lethargic in the first half, but our key players came out strong in the third quarter and put the game away. Our starters set the stage for our bench to put in a great performance in the fourth quarter as well,” he said.
The next game against the Darwin all-stars (on Dec 16) will be key test for the Slingers team, though.
“Our previous games against them were close affairs. (The Slingers won by a single point in their previous two games.) I am looking forward to the upcoming game as a gauge as to how much we have improved this season,” Frank continued.
Final score: 75-46.
See highlights of the second half
Eric Sandrin dunks for two. He started with a bang, scoring 8 points in a 10-0 Slingers run. (Photo 2 © Francis Espeleta)
Tan Chin Hong driving for two. He notched his first points for the Slingers. (Photo 3 © Francis Espeleta)
New local boy Steven Khoo finished with 2 points on 10 minutes of play. (Photo 4 © Francis Espeleta)
Darren Ng shows some serious hang time. (Photo 5 © Francis Espeleta)