By Erwin Wong/Red Sports.
The current top Slinger by average points per game, Kyle Jeffers goes up for a shot. The Slingers coaching staff will need to pace him well as they are heavily reliant on him for points, rebounds and blocks. (Photo © Lai Jun Wei/Red Sports)
The Singapore Slingers will get their ASEAN Basketball League (ABL) campaign up and running in less than 24 hours time against the Brunei Barracudas. The latter, as are the other four teams in the ABL, are somewhat of an unknown entity, with their squad lists the most that teams and basketball fans alike are aware of.
With the Slingers themselves portraying a new-look squad from the 2008 edition, the four 2009 Challenge Series games were therefore an excellent opportunity for the team to experiment with different team lineups and strategies, against no less than the best teams in the region. The Slingers came away with a 2-2 record, and the big-match experience gained will undoubtedly put the team, especially the locals, in good stead for the 15-match season, and potentially the playoffs as well.
We will now take a look at the numbers from those four pre-season games. Slingers followers should know that Kyle Jeffers, the man in the middle, is the team's leading scorer and rebounder, and that point guard Al Vergara tops the assists and steals charts.
But do you know who has shot the ball most accurately during crunch time of the crucial fourth quarter? Which player has turned the ball over the most times in the opening period? And which five players have seen the most court-time in the final 10 minutes?
Of course, the statistics, especially for the fourth quarter, will be skewed if games are blowouts by the time they reach that point of the game, as most coaches would let their second-stringers have a run-out and gain some game experience, as well as to preserve the starting rotation.
But the four matches against the Coca-Cola Tigers, Smart Gilas Pilipinas, Ginebra Kings and San Miguel Beermen were close games entering the final period, forcing Coach Frank Arsego's hand to put his strongest set of players on court.
Thus, we should have a fairly accurate picture of who will be on the floor at crunch time to secure victories or to claw back deficits.
The five players who have played the most minutes in the fourth quarter are:
Al Vergara 8.6
Marcus Ng 6.9
Kyle Jeffers 9.2
Michael LeBlanc 7.7
Pathman Matialakan 5.0
Some other notable figures:
– Wong Wei Long, the Slingers' backup point guard, has averaged about 10 minutes per game since making his debut against Smart Gilas. And although he has proved to be an able stop-gap measure as well as a tenacious defender, he has yet to register an assist.
To this, he explained, "We work based on a certain play, so everyone has their role to do. With my limited time on the court, my job is to organise these plays. Although the stat sheet doesn't say it, I contribute in other ways."
"On the court, there is no margin for error - not one mistake. There is no space for individual skills and plays, especially with my limited playing time."
– Hong Wei Jian, who started all four pre-season games, has shot over 50% from the field (11/21) and is tied for the team lead in three-point shooting percentage (50%). However, he is a paltry 5 of 12 (41.7%) from the free-throw line.
– Kyle Jeffers, the team's leading scorer, has averaged only 2.3 points per game in the fourth quarter for fifth place on the team. Michael Wong is the top local scorer with a 3.0 average.
– Backup forward Steven Khoo has not played a single minute of the fourth quarter. Lim Wai Sian, after a 5 minute 48 second appearance in the fourth quarter of the first game, has not seen court time that late in the game since then.
– There have been four occasions when a Slinger has scored double figures in a single quarter. LeBlanc (14 points, 2nd Quarter, Ginebra Kings), Jeffers (12 points, 2nd Quarter, Smart Gilas), Vergara (12 points, 4th Quarter, Coca-Cola Tigers), and Wei Jian (10 points, 3rd Quarter, Smart Gilas).
But amidst the mass of all these digits, numbers and figures, probably the only one that counts when the season tips off is the total number of points the team has scored at the end of each game, and whether their opponent have surpassed that number.
In-depth statistical analysis, shot-charts and post-game number crunching can only provide the coach with a numerical and hypothetical idea of who would take better care of the ball, score the various types of points, clean rebounds off the glass more effectively, and so on and so forth.
When the pre-game dressing room discussions and time-out huddles are done and dusted, the onus is on the five players on the court at any one time to display the right attitude, and to follow through with the correct execution.
Because when they exude positive characteristics which cannot be expressed with digits and numerals like teamwork, commitment and ability at the opportune moments for the betterment of the team and organisation, it is something that even ‘stattos’ like myself would come to appreciate and applaud.
2009 Challenge Series Singapore Slingers Statistics
|5||Wong Wei Long||3||3.7||40.0||42.9||0.0||0.0||0.7||0.7||0.0||0.7||0.0||1.0||2.0||10.2|
|6||Lim Wai Sian||3||2.0||42.9||0.0||0.0||0.0||0.7||0.7||0.7||0.0||0.3||0.3||0.7||13.6|
|12||Hong Wei Jian||4||7.8||52.4||50.0||41.7||1.0||1.5||2.5||0.8||0.3||0.0||3.0||2.0||19.6|
GM - Games played
PTS - Points scored.
FG - Field goals
3PT - Three-point field goals
FT - Free throws
OR - Offensive rebounds.
DR - Defensive rebounds.
TR - Total rebounds.
AST - Assists.
STL - Steals.
BS - Blocked shots.
TO - Turnovers.
PF - Personal fouls.
MIN - Minutes played.
2009 Challenge Series Singapore Slingers Statistics
|Category||GAME||VALUE||1ST Q||VALUE||2ND Q||VALUE||3RD Q||VALUE||4TH Q||VALUE|
|FG %||Pathman||66.7 (14/21)||Jeffers||56.3 (9/16)||Jeffers||76.9 (10/13)||Pathman||85.7 (6/7)||Marcus||77.8 (7/9)|
|50.0 (9/18, 4/8)||Vergara||100 (3/3)||LeBlanc||60.0 (3/5)||Wei Jian||100 (2/2)||Vergara||60.0 (3/5)|
|FT %||Desmond||100 (4/4)||Jeffers||66.7 (4/6)||Pathman||100 (2/2)||Pathman||100 (3/3)||Desmond||100 (2/2)|
|Personal Fouls||Jeffers||2.5||Pathman||1.0||Pathman||1.0||Wei Long||1.0||Wei Long||1.0|
FG - Field goals made/attempted.
3FG - Three-point field goals made/attempted.
FT - Free throws made/attempted.