After a stellar performance of 15 points against the Rain or Shine Elasto Plasters in the pre-season, a big name from the Slingers bench has suddenly faded into oblivion. There seems to a big contrast between the Wei Long of last season and the Wei Long of this season. Once the 7th man of the team last season, this season, the backup point guard has yet to score a point in the ABL. Here’s a breakdown to what’s possibly happening;
1) Reduced Minutes
The signing of Leo Avenido has been a big offensive upgrade for the Slingers, with Leo becoming the Slingers’ go-to-guy on offense. However, having the ability to play point guard as well, Leo’s minutes have been detrimental to Wei Long’s playing time. In the last four games, Wei Long has been coming off the bench only for 3 minutes, unlike his average of 10-12 minutes last season. With less playing time, Wei Long has been able to get into his shooting groove of last season. Thus far, he hasn’t made a three-point shot.
2) Pressure to mirror Al
Veteran point guard Al Vergara has been Wei Long’s mentor since the first season. As a true point guard, Al has been teaching Wei Long the skills of the trade at the point – how to run the Slinger’s offense, how to bring the ball upcourt etc. Though good as it seems, and Wei Long has become a much better ball-handler than before, Wei Long’s game has been toned down into becoming a playmaker secondary to a spot up shooter. In my opinion, the pressure to live up to the standard such as Al at the point guard spot has been counter-productive to Wei Long’s game recently. Wei Long, as a streaky shooter, is capable of putting up big nights if he gets the hot hand. The pressure to share the ball and take fewer shots has taken a toll on him, thus explaining his uncharacteristic season thus far.
As the Slingers anticipate the Flyboy’s return, this problem might worsen for Wei Long. The young guard is still struggling to find his identity as a player. The pressure to perform as a playmaker has significantly removed Wei Long’s scoring flare, which is what the Slingers bench need desperately to start dominating in the league once again. The Slingers locals haven’t been able to shine thus far because they are suppressing their sparkplug off the bench.
Wei Long needs to play more minutes, and he needs to play himself, not as Al.