The Singapore Slingers are determined to wrap up the ASEAN Basketball League (ABL) finals at the OCBC Arena and win their first-ever title on home court.
Slingers coach Neo Beng Siang wants his team to see out the series and avoid a repeat of last year, where they lost in five games to the Westport Malaysia Dragons.
The Slingers are tied one game apiece with the Hong Kong Eastern Long Lions in a best of five series.
“We need to take care our business,” Neo said. “Now, with the 1-1 situation, we can wrap it up with the next two games and we need to grab our opportunity.
“I told our players, we are not going to go back to Hong Kong for a Game 5.”
In Game 1, the Slingers surprised the Hong Kong Eastern Long Lions 92-76 behind a mammoth performance from centre Justin Howard. The 35-year-old tallied 45 points and 28 boards as the Long Lions struggled to stop him.
In Game 2 however, the Slingers lost 84-92. The team were unable to convert their attempts, and Howard ended the game with just 19 points.
The Slingers committed 25 turnovers and struggled to execute their plays on offense. This, despite the Lions losing their best player Marcus Elliot to an ejection.
Neo admitted that the players are “disappointed” but he believes that the team can adjust their mentality ahead of Game 3.
“Towards the end, I felt we are to be blamed, because we were too emotional and lost our composure,” Neo said of the Game 2 collapse.
“We need to come out physical and be aggressive, and attack the basket without turning the ball over too much [in Game 3]. We really need to protect our ball.
“I’m confident that intensity-wise, we are ready.”
With both Game 3 and 4 just two days apart, there is also concern about fatigue creeping in.
Neo brushed off those worries. “For us, it’s not the first time. We had four to six games cramped together in the regular season, where we had to travel and play the next day. We are used to that,” he said.
The Singapore Slingers taken on the Hong Kong Eastern Long Lions at the OCBC Arena on 21 April (Friday) at 8pm and 23 April (Sunday) at 4pm. Tickets are available here.