By Koh Yizhe/Red Sports
Singapore Indoor Stadium, Sunday, March 24, 2013 – A late rally by the Singapore Slingers was not enough to overturn a massive deficit as they went down 61-68 to the San Miguel Beermen in the ASEAN Basketball League (ABL).
The Beermen led by as many as 22 points in the fourth quarter, but the Slingers would trim it down to seven points as they ended the match on a 22-7 run. However, it was too little too late as the visitors hung on for the win.
The defeat drops the Slingers to fifth place and out of the coveted final playoff spot. For the Beermen, the victory was their sixth in a row and they now sit at the top of the ABL standings.
Chris Banchero was simply unstoppable as he scored a game-high 19 points and dished out six assists for the Beermen. Brian Williams had a double-double of 11 points and 11 rebounds while former Slinger Leo Avenido had 10 points.
In his home debut, Rashaad Singleton hit eight of his 12 field goals attempts to finish with 17 points, 11 rebounds and four blocks. Rashad Jones-Jennings also had a double-double with 10 points and 16 rebounds. Phillip Morrison, in his second match as a Slinger, netted 14 points though he needed 19 attempts to get that total.
The last time the Slingers played at home, they were defeated by the Beermen and have not won a match since. They suffered heavy defeats to the Malaysia Dragons as well as a heartbreaking two-point loss to the Thailand Slammers.
Slingers head coach Neo Beng Siang gave 20-year-old Wu Qingde a place in the starting lineup along with Mitchell Folkoff and Morrison, but they were unable to contain last season’s finalists. From the tip-off, the Beermen went on the offensive as they quickly established a double-digit lead mid-way through the first quarter. They led 24-12 after the first 10 minutes.
Much of the same followed in the next two quarters as the Slingers were unable to find an answer to the Beermen’s continuous onslaught. The locals’ contributions at the offensive end were sorely lacking as sharp-shooter Wong Wei Long missed all five of his attempts from beyond the arc and finished with just two points.
Similarly, Folkoff struggled and could not get on the scoreboard.
It was only in the fourth quarter that the Slingers started to get their act together. Singleton scored 10 of his 17 points in the final period as the host turned up their defensive intensity to make crucial stops.
Although they outscored the Beermen 24-11 in the last 10 minutes, the deficit proved too much to overcome as they lost their sixth game on the trot.
“If we played like with did in the fourth quarter, we will definitely win some games in the second half of the season,” declared coach Neo, confident that the team will bounce back from the defeats.
Point guard Morrison, having played just two matches in a Slingers jersey, feels it will take some time for the team to get familiar with each other.
“I’ve been here (in Singapore) for less than a week and I’ve been adjusting,” said the Filipino-American.
“My position at point guard is important and we’ve got good players like Wei Long and Mitchell. They are also adjusting to me and it will take awhile. We’re improving and working hard as a team. Now, we need to pull everything together and make a playoff push.”
The Slingers will look to get their season back on track against the Saigon Heat. The match will be played at the Singapore Indoor Stadium on March 31, at 4 p.m.
Score by Quarters
Slingers vs Beermen
1st Q: 12-24
2nd Q: 10-13 (22-37)
3rd Q: 15-20 (37-57)
4th Q: 24-11 (61-68)
Slingers: Singleton — 17, Morrison — 14, Cabatu — 10, Jones-Jennings — 10, Oh — 6, Wei Long — 2, Wu — 2.
Beermen: Banchero — 19, B. Williams — 11, Avenido — 10, Rizada — 9, J. Williams — 6, Cawaling — 5, Taulava — 5, Acuna — 3.
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