A sizeable crowd showed up at the Slingers new home turf, the OCBC Arena, to watch the opening game of the 2014 Slingers season. The Slingers did not disappoint and treated the crowd to a 16-point win over ABL newcomers Laskar Dreya, despite the fact that 4 of the Slingers’ key local players have just concluded their FIBA Asia Cup tournament a day earlier.
Wei Long, Desmond, Han Bin and Delvin, had to fly back from Wuhan, China, and touched down in Singapore at 2am Sunday morning. In less than 12 hours, they had to assume their Slingers duty and play yet another game – their 7th in 8 days!
While Wei Long described the Asia Cup outing as a “priceless one” where Singapore could pit their skills against Asia’s best, the effects of the gruelling tournament was showing. “We are really tired!”, exclaimed Wei Long, who struggled to find his stroke, and shot a 0-for-9 in the game. It was a stark contrast to his 33 point 10 rebound effort against Jordan just a week earlier.
The players had also sustained injuries during the highly intensive tournament, but went on to play this game. Desmond Oh was suffering from a thigh bruise, Wei Long was suffering from muscle tightness and Han Bin was suffering from a shoulder injury that kept him out of the 7th-8th placing game against India.
Slingers fans also did not get a chance to watch Filipino forward Gayford Rodriguez play, as he was nursing an ankle injury.
In spite of having 1 player down, and 4 others playing through fatigue, the crowd got behind their team, and it was enough to give the Slingers a 62-46 win.
Former New Jersey Nets guard, Hassan Adams, did not disappoint with his all-round game, as he led his team with 21 points, 2 rebounds and 2 assists. He was also instrumental on the defensive end, recording 3 blocks and 2 steals.
Slingers Captain Kyle Jeffers also had a phenomenal game with 12 points and 19 rebounds, but also 4 blocks and 3 steals.
But it was the team’s signature defense that helped secure the win. Laskar Dreya was held to just 46 points and 28% shooting for the entire game. While Kyle Jeffers and rookie Russel Low anchored the interior defense, it was the Slingers’ defensive demon, Desmond “D-glove” Oh, who haunted Laskar Dreya international import for 3 and the half quarters. Desmond Oh literally took away Falando Jones’ game until he fouled out of the game midway through the fourth quarter.
Both Slingers rookies Russel Low and Larry Liew started the game, in a move that took everyone by surprise. Larry Liew impressed with 8 points and 5 rebounds in just 20 minutes of gameplay, improving that his SEA games’ performance was no fluke. His counterpart, Russel Low only managed 2 points from executing his signature low post moves, but it was his excellent interior defense (2 blocks and 6 rebounds) that complemented Kyle Jeffers, limiting Laskar Dreya to just 20 points in the paint.
The Slingers jumped to a quick start, not delaying in building a 21-8 first quarter lead. However, from 2nd quarter onwards, the team did not manage to build on their lead and struggled to put the ball into the hole. This was probably due to the fatigue-stricken performances of key role players Wei Long, Han Bin and Desmond.
A visibly frustrated Wei Long scored his first 2 points with 39 seconds left in the game, after remaining scoreless for the entire night, much to the pleasure and relief of his fans who were waiting to see him score.
While a win is a win, both Wei Long and Desmond Oh both insists there are still a lot of adjustments the team has to make such as maintaining their intensity for all 4 quarters and converting their shots.
On a side note, this also marks veteran filipino point guard and fan favourite Al Vergara’s return to his former team – his 4th season with the Slingers. He contributed 4 points, 3 rebounds and assists.
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