Although the Slingers won their first game in a 16-point trounce of Laskar Dreya last Sunday, their real test beckons on 27 July 2014, as they take on their traditional causeway rivals, the Westports Malaysian Dragons, at home.
Last season, the Slingers lost their season series 1-3 to the Dragons, and the Dragons went on to finish at 3rd place while the Slingers fell out of playoff contention.
This season, the Slingers have re-tooled by bringing back both ever-reliable veteran big man Kyle Jeffers and nifty point guard Al Vergara in a move to improve team chemistry. They have also added a lethal slashing weapon in Hassan Adams, who had an impressive 21-point scoring debut in the season-opener.
The Dragons have likewise re-tooled by bringing in Chris Eversley, a versatile scoring forward who was due for this year’s 2014 NBA Draft, and Justin Knox, a athletic power forward with a mid-range game. While they have lost Julius Armon and “Mighty Mouse” Justin Melton to the PBA, big dunking Moala Tautuaa comes back for his 2nd season with the team, and Fil-Am sensation Rashawn McCarthy is added as their second ASEAN import.
The Slingers and Dragons are 2 teams with quite contrasting playing styles. The Slingers, on one hand, are a disciplined team that like to share the ball, thrive on running their sets to perfection and pride themselves on playing solid team defense. The Dragons, on the other hand, are a more free-flowing team that likes to run and rely heavily on the offensive prowess of their imports. It would interesting to see which style would triumph in tomorrow’s match-up.
Just as the Dragons have clearly spelled out their keys to the game in this article here, we thought we should do some analysis for the home-side and spell out the keys to a Slingers’ victory:
1) Stepping Up Local Ball
For the Slingers to beat the Dragons, they will have to shoot better than the 33% they did against Laskar Dreya in their home opener. Kyle Jeffers and Hassan Adams both had decent shooting games converting 45% of their field goals. But it was the dismal 8/34 shooting (23.5%) from the locals that brought the team’s FG percentage down and resulting in the Slingers scoring only 62 points in the entire game. Wei Long went 0-of-9 while Russel Low went 1-of-7. True enough, there was the fatigue factor in play, and perhaps Russel had to adjust to his very first ABL game (as a starter). But excuses are enough for the Slingers to beat the Dragons. For the Slingers to beat a high-scoring Dragons team, they would certainly have to put more points on the scoreboard. That would inevitably have to come from the Slingers’ locals, as they seek to prove that they are the 2nd best in Southeast Asia. Wei Long and gang would have to step up local ball, for a Slingers victory.
2) Stopping Chris Eversley
For the Slingers to beat the Dragons, the current ABL leading scorer Chris Eversley has to be stopped. Looking through the tapes, one would quickly realise that Chris Eversley is no Falando Jones. Eversely is an explosive scoring machine who is capable of putting up points from anywhere on the court. While Falando Jones stand at 6’4, and is guardable by Slingers’ defensive stopper Desmond Oh, Eversley is 6’7 and weighs 230 pounds. With young legs and an athletic frame, Eversley will be difficult to contain, even for Desmond Oh who is already 5 years older! The Slingers who have to find ways to slow Eversley down, especially on when is on the run, and limit his scoring output. Should Eversley single-handedly explode again with a repeat 31 point output, it would difficult for Slingers to secure a victory.
3) Slowing down the Pace
For the Slingers to beat the Dragons, the Slingers has got to force the Dragons to play slow ball. The Dragons is a much better team on the fast-break (with a possibility of dunks and alley-oops, think Moala Tautuaa) than they are at the half-court. In order for the Slingers to win, they would have to dictate the pace of the game and push the game into a state of mechanical “boredom”, if you will, just so that the Dragons would not be able to get it off all night. This burden would inevitably fall on Al Vergara and Wong Wei Long at the point, and also the fans to tolerate not seeing any dunks from any Dragons’ fast-breaks. while it may not be the most exciting match we get watch, that would entail a Slingers’ victory.
So there you have it, our 3 keys to the game for a Slingers’ victory tomorrow!
But who will prevail?
Catch the game live at the OCBC Arena at 4pm or watch it live online from the link below: