Now that the ASEAN Basketball Season 6 is over in the elimination round stages, we will take this time to take this time to take a look back at the seasons of all six ABL teams.
Here’s the season review for the Singapore Slingers.
I am never ever going to doubt the Singapore Slingers ever again. Never ever.
Season In Review
I can’t remember exactly when it hit me that the Singapore Slingers were the real deal. It took time to process that. I always knew that they would always compete. But I didn’t really figure that they would be competing at this level.
There was an impressive win over the KL Dragons at home early in the season, but it felt more of a performance by Justin Howard (ABL season high 45 points!) than anything else back then.
Then they beat Hitech Bangkok City in Bangkok by 19 points, which was highly impressive, but once again, it felt more like Hitech shooting themselves in the foot than Slingers pulling the trigger.
Maybe it was that game before Christmas. The Slingers went into MABA Stadium, played straight up gritty in the Dragon’s faces, and came away with an impressive win. I think it was at this particular point when I realized how scary the Slingers could be.
That game would be the Slingers 4th straight victory and they would rally on for 7 straight more, going for an impressive 11 winning streak run.
During that run, the Singapore Slingers:
- Beat KL Dragons in Kuala Lumpur.
- Won two straight games without local star, Wong Wei Long (suspension).
- Beat an upstart Pilipinas MX3 Kings by dropping a buzzer-beating game tying shot and dominating overtime.
- Overcame Tyler Lamb’s heroic 30-point game and beat Hitech Bangkok City by 3 points.
That’s quite an impressive run.
The Slingers have had various players step up for them throughout the entire season and while Justin Howard and Xavier Alexander has been dominant, it’s seems like everyone has stepped up big in at least one game.
Wu Qing De had a long stretch to start 2016 where he shot the lights out.
Desmond Oh made two big three pointers to beat the Mono Vampires.
Wong Wei Long took over in the clutch against the Pilipinas MX3 Kings.
Leon Kwek had a game where he hit jumpshots and free throws in the 4th quarter to propel the Slingers over the Vampires.
They came down to earth a little bit after the streak was broken at the hands of Hitech Bangkok City, but looked focus in dominating the Mono Vampires and the Saigon Heat in three games they won by and average of 24.7 points.
The Slingers have been one of the most stable teams in the ABL and maybe they peaked too early in the season, they’ll be playing at a high level into the playoffs anyways.
The Slingers are a weird offensive team. It’s kind of like they just keep on adapting to the situation. Early in the season, there was a concern about their three-point shooting with the lack of Larry Liew. And true to that concern, they shot horribly. Throughout the first half of the season, they averaged only 14.2 three point attempts per game and made only 21.7% of them.
But they made up for that by being one of the most aggressive teams in the ABL and went to the line 25.2 times a game. The points from the charity stripe were able to offset their three-point shooting woes.
And then along came Wu.
“Who’s in the house? WU’S IN THE HOUSE!”
The Slinger’s PA would yell into his microphone every time Wu Qingde hit a three pointer. He would make so many of them (28 through the entire season), that the PA just shortened it to “Who’s house? WU’S HOUSE!” by the time the season ended.
Since the flip of calendar to 2016, the Slingers have been shooting 35.8% from downtown, which would be significantly higher than the league-leading 34.4% that the Dragons are posting.
Wu Qingde has cooled down a bit, but Wong Wei Long has stepped up instead. Since coming back from his 2 game suspension, Wei Long has been shooting 53.1% from downtown (GADDAYUM!).
Kris Rosales overcame his slow start and has proven to be a quiet efficient scorer, even though he isn’t much of a threat from downtown.
Justin Howard will forever be the reliable guy down low who hits awkward mid-range set shots and peculiar hook shots.
Xavier Alexander has been an awesome playing the point forward.
The imports run the fastbreak really well and the Slingers pass the ball up crisply.
They may not be the flashiest offense in the ABL, but they have been one of the most efficient.
The Singapore Slingers have become the golden standard for defense. Or at least they should be. They don’t block shots into the 5th row of OCBC Arena or stuff like that, but they just annoy you on offense into taking the worst shot.
They still play at the league’s slowest pace (80.4, up from 76.9 last year) and limit opponents to 70.7 shot attempts per game. The second lowest are the Dragons 75.8.
Opponents shoot only 38.2% against the Slingers. No other team in the ABL can hold the other team below 40%. Teams shoot a league-low 43.1% inside the arc and a league-low 25.1% outside the arc.
Limit your opponents shot attempts and limit their shot conversion ratio. Seems like a nice strategy to me.
This is the defense that kept Matthew Wright at only 8 points, the only time he scored in single digits this season.
This is the defense that held Tyler Lamb to only 3 points, his season low.
They help Freddie Goldstein to only 6 points.
Moses Morgan scored a combined 11 points against the Slingers in the last two games they played.
Wei Long, Oh, Wingde, Alexander, and all of the perimeter players have done a marvelous job of keeping their assignments at bay.
Delvin Goh has been fighting off imports the entire season and he has held his own.
The most amazing thing is that they aren’t using any elaborate schemes on defense to pull this off. It’s just a matter of being tenacious and just being persistent in annoying the hell out of your guy.
It’s been two years of watching this Slinger’s defense do it’s thing and it is still impressive as ever.
PS. Point of concern is still the interior defense. As solid as Goh has been, the Slinger don’t have much depth here and Justin Howard can only avoid foul trouble for so long. It’s not a coincidence that Reggie Johnson/Calvin Godfrey has four 30-point performances over the Slingers.
Justin Howard and Xavier Alexander have logged the most amount of minutes in the league, playing 93.9% of possible minutes played.
Justin Howard has truly earned his self-proclaimed nickname “Fine Wine” as he has preformed beyond what anyone else has expected out of the 34-year-old. I expected him to be solid, but not “20.8 points, 15.9 rebounds (league-leading), 3.0 assists, 1.4 steals, and 1.4 blocks” solid. We all know about his 45 points game against the Dragons but let’s take a brief moment to acknowledge that he has played 10 consecutive games without fouling out despite playing almost every minute.
Xavier Alexander was a surprising signing when I first heard about it, not because that I was concerned about his talent-level (which was never in question) but more because the Slingers needed someone who was could operate down low. Not only was I wrong about what the Slingers needed, I was also wrong about the possibility that Alexander couldn’t post down low.
The Slingers used Alexander nicely in the point-forward role where he would initiate the Slingers offense whether it was from the perimeter or the post. Alexander found his mismatches (where he either had the speed advantage on a big man or a size/strength advantage on a wing) and exploited them to the fullest.
Professor X’s stat line: 19.3 PPG, 9.7 RPG, 5.4 APG, 2.4 SPG, 11.0 TOV%
Those are just ridiculous numbers and it’s amazing how relatively under the radar he has been.
But I guess under-the-radar is sort of what the Slingers do. And this is why Kris Rosales fits in so perfectly.
Rosales is a guy who you can’t really quantify with number to really gauge his impact. Averaging only a modest 10.1 points, 3.9 rebounds and 3.2 assists, Rosales never shined like a star. But when the moment came, Rosales stepped up over and over again. Clutch shooting, crisp passing, and an old-school feel to his game made him one of the more enjoyable players in this ABL season.
Was Rosales a bona-fide star who took over the ABL? Not really, but he was exactly what the Slingers need, he realized that role, and he embraced it perfectly.
Did Wong Wei Long get even better than he was last year?
It’s an issue that could be worth digging deeper into, but the initial numbers observation says “Hell, yes’. His usage rate and minutes are basically the same (with a slight dip from last year ever) but he’s been scoring more efficiently, getting better passes, and getting more steals:
Season 5 Wong Wei Long: 10.4 PPG, 47.8 eFG%, 24.5 3P%, 1.5 APG, 9.5 AST%, 0.9 SPG
Season 6 Wong Wei Long: 12.1 PPG, 37.9 eFG%, 36.6 3P% 2.5 APG, 14.8 AST%, 1.7 SPG
If the reigning ASEAN MVP got even better…do you automatically give him the award again?
Of course, you don’t. That wouldn’t be fair to any of the other locals that suddenly step their game up to another level. It wouldn’t be fair for guys like Wu Qingde.
Qingde was a scrappy forward who specialized in grabbing offensive rebounds (9.3 ORB%) and hustle plays last year. The unexpected turnaround that change him into the league’s leading three-point shooter at 43.1% is just one of those stories you had to witness to believe. I guess you might be tired of these stat line comparison’s but bear with me for another one:
Season 5 Wu Qingde: 9.9 MPG, 2.7 PPG, 16.7 3P%, 34.4 eFG%
Season 6 Wu Qingde: 21.3 MPG, 10.0 PPG, 43.1 3P%, 58.3 eFG%
Qingde credits Larry Liew for teaching how to shoot but I think they were involved in some freak accident where Larry Liew’s shooting ability got transferred to Qingde by accident. Which would explain why Liew didn’t play this year. It all makes sense now.
I’d go on more about how Delvin Goh also improved his game, but I feel like this would drag on for too long.
Leon Kwek and Desmond Oh round out the rest of the local line up. Kwek started of the first half of the season looking like the next big thing and went on to score an average of 10 points per game for a six game stretch (with a high at 18). Since then, his minutes have been limited and has scored only 14 points total.
While the imports of Singapore Slingers are really good, it’s the level of talent and confidence that the locals play with that make them such a good team.
The Slingers have played solid and consistent basketball throughout the entire year. A few twists and turns in their style of play have occurred (as mentioned above) but the core is their gritty and pesky defense.
A slight concern going into the playoffs might be if their ceiling is a bit too fixed. Sometimes you feel like you can gauge exactly how much the Slingers can give you night in and night out. And in a tightly contested series, the lack of an “X-Factor” might go against them.
But don’t let that take away what a marvelous season this has been for the Slingers.
The Wei Long, Oh, Qingde, Kwek, Goh core has plenty of years ahead of them. Qing Huang might be a big role player soon. AND THEY STILL HAVE LARRY LIEW AND RUSSEL LOW HIDING AROUND SOMEWHERE.
The future is oh so very bright for the Slingers.
Let’s take a look back at what I said about the Singapore Slingers at the start of the season:
The Slingers are aware of their limitations and they find ways to minimize the opportunities of it being exploited
By midseason, all of them should be able to provide solid minutes and shouldn’t disrupt the flow of the game much between substitutions.
The exhaust will catch up with them at some point.
Hmm. This is interesting.
I love the Slingers for how they develop players and their approach in team building, but it seems like a rebuilding year for them.
I don’t expect this year’s squad to be able to replicate their success with too many new pieces to set in place.
6-8 wins should be accurate.
HAHAHHAHAHAHAHA. Try 16 wins, you so-called expert.
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