He played in the last edition of the Merlion Cup held in 1996, and in two weeks, Neo Beng Siang will again be keenly involved as the basketball tournament makes a comeback from a 20-year hiatus. This time around, Neo, who turns 55 later this month, will be in a coaching role as the Singapore Slingers fly the nation's flag in the six-team professional club tournament taking place at the OCBC Arena from Sep 21-25. Playing in Group A, the Slingers are up against the Kinmen Kaoliang Liquor from Taiwan and the Shanghai Sharks, a team owned by Chinese basketball legend Yao Ming. Group B features the Seoul Samsung Thunder from South Korea, Filipino side Mighty Sports and reigning ASEAN Basketball League (ABL) champion, Westports Malaysia Dragons. The Slingers have set themselves a modest target of reaching the semi-finals. But given the quality of the opposition, winning just the one group game that would get them there would be a tall order, something Neo acknowledges. But the former national captain is excited simply to have the opportunity to expose his players to a higher level of competition, while casting his eyes on the new season of the ABL, and the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games next year. He said: 'The Merlion Cup is an opportunity for our boys to play against better teams, such as from China and Korea. We enjoyed a good run last year after qualifying for the Asian Championships, and played against the top teams, and it helped as our players had to face bigger-sized players in every position. 'It pushed our players to another level, and the experience gained meant they were able to play without fear when faced with similar situations.' While the ABL allows for each team to employ four imported players - two each from ASEAN and non-ASEAN countries - the Slingers have over the years stuck to the philosophy of hiring only three, so as to free up an extra spot for a local player. This has helped with the development of the Singapore national team, as evidenced by the bronze medals in the past two SEA Games. And it is that long-term vision to grow Singapore basketball that has seen the Slingers franchise work hand-in-glove with the Basketball Association of Singapore (BAS) to ensure the needs of both are met. BAS' president, David Ong, said it is a good time for the Merlion Cup to be revived, especially as the association has been able to muster up the S$500,000 in funding the organise the tournament. He said: 'We've been seeing good crowds for basketball games held here, and we want to leverage that and put on another marquee event for the fans. We were able to get enough support from our partners and sponsors, and riding on the success and interest of basketball in tournaments such as the SEA Games and ticket sales for other matches held here, we feel that this event is timely. 'And with the Slingers helping to develop our national players with their participation in the ABL, we're more than happy to provide this platform for our players to go up against teams of international standing.' Preparations for the Slingers leading up to the Merlion Cup have been limited to a session a day, with Singapore players involved in the ongoing national basketball league which wraps up next week. And Neo has had to find replacements for local players Delvin Goh, Toh Qing Huang and John Ng, all of whom have entered National Service. The Slingers have retained their two American imports, Alexander Xavier (198-G-88, college: S.Nazarene) and Justin Howard (208-C-81, college: Mercer), who will only arrive back on Sep 10, while Filipino point guard Jeff Viernes flies in next week to be trialled during the Merlion Cup. A good showing will lock Viernes in as replacement for last season's standout Kris Rosales (183-G, college: Hope International), who has left for Tropang TNT in the top-tier Philippine Basketball Association league. Neo recalled how Merlion Cup games of yore could attract sell-out crowds at the 10,000-seater Singapore Indoor Stadium, especially if they featured the China national team and a side from either Russia or the United States. And he is certain the 3,500-capacity OCBC Arena would be packed for the five days of the upcoming Merlion Cup. 'Let's fill every seat and get the momentum back for basketball in Singapore,' he said. 'The players need the atmosphere, and I'm sure they'll deliver great entertainment for the fans.' Courtesy of: channelnewsasia.com
Slingers Return to ABL Finals With Sweep of Alab Pilipinas - 19 days ago
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Slowly but surely, fans packing the Baliwag Star Arena made their way towards the exit, as shot after shot of the Singapore Slingers found their mark in the fourth quarter. As the lead continued to grow, the inevitable became clearer: The Lion City would return to the Finals once again. Behind the stellar play of Xavier Alexander (198-G-88, college: S.Nazarene) and a breakout game from Heritage Import Joshua Urbiztondo (185-PG-83, college: Fresno Pacific) in his return to the Philippines,... [read more]
Slowly but surely, fans packing the Baliwag Star Arena made their way towards the exit, as shot after shot of the Singapore Slingers found their mark in the fourth quarter. As the lead continued to grow, the inevitable became clearer: The Lion City would return to the Finals once again. Behind the stellar play of Xavier Alexander (198-G-88, college: S.Nazarene) and a breakout game from Heritage Import Joshua Urbiztondo (185-PG-83, college: Fresno Pacific) in his return to the Philippines, the Slingers led from the start and and punched the first ASEAN Basketball League Finals ticket with a 82-64 win over Alab Pilipinas. Alexander was rock solid for the Slingers once again, as he finished with 21 points, 12 rebounds, 5 assists and 2 steals. Urbiztondo contributed a season high 20 points on 4-8 from the three point area, along with with 5 rebounds and 6 assists. 'Everything was on the line,' Slingers' Leon Kwek shared. 'It was a do or die game for them, for us it was about closing it out.' The Philippine-based squad immediately began the game with a handicap, as MVP candidate Ray Parks Jr. was ruled out because of an ankle injury sustained in Game 1 of the Semis. Guard Jeric Fortuna (173-PG-91) was also unavailable due to a separate injury. That led local star Kiefer Isaac Ravena (181-G/F-93), in only his second game with the team, to try and extend Alab's season without Parks. 'It's unfortunate he [Parks] had the injury,' Xavier Alexander said. 'But whoever's out there, that's who we're out there with, and that's who we're gonna battle with.' The first quarter started out promisingly, as Alab was able to keep in step with the Slingers early on. Ravena took control of the team in scoring and facilitating, and also got help from an active Lawrence Domingo in the paint. However Slingers World Import Xavier Alexander took control pushing the tempo and scoring at will. Wong Wei Long and Kwek also contributed on offense to finish on a 13-2 run to end the first quarter up 24-14. Foul trouble hit Alab hard, as Ravena was whistled for his third foul in the second quarter. As a result, Ravena had to sit out majority of the second quarter. That's where the Slingers hit hard. The lead ballooned to 20 points at the 3:30 mark before eventually settling on a 47-29 lead at the half. Sensing the need to strike, the Philippines would attempt a comeback early in the third quarter as they went on an 8-1 run. Alexander would respond with an emphatic slam on Lawrence Domingo, squashing the momentum of the home team. But it seemed like every time Alab threatened to make a run, the Slingers were ready for them. This time, it was Joshua Urbiztondo that would find the mark, as he scattered 7 points in the quarter to keep Singapore ahead. However timely threes from Ravena and Jens Knuttel kept Alab within striking distance, as the deficit dwindled to only six points before finally ending the quarter down 9, 60-51. That would be prove to be as close as Alab could get, as the Slingers simply overwhelmed their opponents in the payoff period. Singapore opened the fourth in style in a 9-2, spearheaded by reigning MVP Wong Wei Long. Finally unshackled from foul trouble. Urbiztondo piled it on via shots from the perimeter and drives in the paint, as the lead climbed to 19 with 6:17 left. His final field goal of the game, a three pointer with 2:16 left would be the final nail in the coffin, as the Slingers would not let up until the final buzzer sounded. Aside from the game-long brilliance of Alexander and Urbiztondo, big man Justin Howard (209-C-81, college: Mercer) also had a solid 18 points, 14 rebounds and 2 blocks. Local stars Kwek and Wong were also a big factor, as they contributed 10 and 8 points respectively. Domingo paced Alab Pilipinas with 18 points and 13 rebounds. Ravena had 16 points, 4 rebounds and 4 assists in the losing effort. 'I think the whole team is very excited to get back to the Finals,' Wong shared after the victory 'What we're trying to do is play like a team and be strong in the Finals and be mentally prepared.' The unselfishness was evident from the start, as the Slingers racked up 19 assists compared to only 11 for Alab. They also found the range from downtown, shooting 7/16 for 43% from downtown. The Philippines wound up only 2/15 from the perimeter. 'It's all about the team,' Wong shared. 'Everyone encourages one another- I think that's where we stand out. We play as a team, our offense is set with discipline, and that brings us together.' 'We're not a one man team,' the reigning MVP added. 'Whoever is on the floor knows their job and how to do it.' With the win, the Slingers now await their opponent in the ABL Finals, as the Hong Kong Eastern Long Lions and Saigon Heat prepare for Game 2 of their series. But no matter which squad they face, one thing's for sure: The Slingers have unfinished business, and they're excited for another opportunity to take care of it. 'This is what I came back for,' Alexander bared as he headed back to the Slingers' team bus. 'This is what me and Justin talked about this summer, and now we're finally there.' Courtesy of: aseanbasketballleague.com
Singapore Slingers set to face Alab Pilipinas in 2016-17 ABL Semi Finals - 1 month ago
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The 2016-17 ABL Semi Finals Series are now locked in with the #1 seed Hong Kong Eastern Long Lions (15-4) to face #4 seed Saigon Heat (8-10) in one semi final series while the #2 seed Singapore Slingers (12-7) will face off against #3 seed Alab Pilipinas (10-9). For the Singapore Slingers the match up with Alab should be interesting as their is a large number of basketball loving Filipinos living and working in Singapore who are expected to snap up the play-off tickets [read more]
The 2016-17 ABL Semi Finals Series are now locked in with the #1 seed Hong Kong Eastern Long Lions (15-4) to face #4 seed Saigon Heat (8-10) in one semi final series while the #2 seed Singapore Slingers (12-7) will face off against #3 seed Alab Pilipinas (10-9). For the Singapore Slingers the match up with Alab should be interesting as their is a large number of basketball loving Filipinos living and working in Singapore who are expected to snap up the play-off tickets. Slingers management are calling on the local basketball community to get out and support their home team which is led by local Singaporean head coach Neo Beng Siang and features 9 local Singaporeans in the Slingers 12 man roster. After a herrendous run of player injuries during the 2016-17 regular season the Slingers hope to be back to near full strength by the time their semi final series tips off on Sunday 2nd April at OCBC Arena in Singapore. Courtesy of: singaporeslingers.com
Xin Hua Sports Club wins ActiveSG-BAS National Masters Cup 2017 - 1 month ago
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Hua Sports Club have won ActiveSG-BAS National Masters Cup 2017 last night. In the Final game they beat Freeman 64-57. Hong Liang Electronics meanwhile clinched third place defeating PCW & Partners (Blue) 50-40.
Earlier in the semifinals Freeman posted a 65-53 win over PCW & Partners. Singapore Xin Hua Sports Club won a thriller against Hong Liang Electronics 61-58. [read more]
Hua Sports Club have won ActiveSG-BAS National Masters Cup 2017 last night. In the Final game they beat Freeman 64-57. Hong Liang Electronics meanwhile clinched third place defeating PCW & Partners (Blue) 50-40. Earlier in the semifinals Freeman posted a 65-53 win over PCW & Partners. Singapore Xin Hua Sports Club won a thriller against Hong Liang Electronics 61-58.
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