Slingers GM unhappy with local players

Jobstreet.com Singapore Slingers general manager Michael Johnson has criticised the attitude of his local players in the aftermath of another poor campaign.

Wong Wei Long.
Marcus Chhan

By Marcus Chhan

The Slingers fell short of making the ASEAN Basketball League (ABL) Playoffs this week, ending the season with a 7-15 record which meant they just missed out on the final post-season spot to the fourth-placed Sports Rev Thailand Slammers (8-14).

For over a month the two teams were destined to battle each other for the final Playoff ticket but ultimately it was the Thais who emerged with the better regular season record as well as a superior head-to-head mark.

Much of the blame has been laid squarely at the feet of the organisation's insistence on complementing their two World Imports with only two ASEAN Imports when the ABL allows teams to fill their roster with up to three ASEAN Imports.

The Slingers started the 2013 ABL with Kyle Jeffers and Rashad Jones-Jennings as their two allowed World Imports while the Filipino pairing of Jun Cabatu and Donald Dulay were assigned their ASEAN slots.

However, injuries to Jeffers and Dulay saw American Rashaad Singleton and Fil-Am guard Phillip Morrison drafted in as mid-season replacements - both did reasonably well.

"We have great owners. For them it is about development," Johnson said.

"We only have four imports. A lot of other teams have six with heritage players. We cop a bit of flak from fans who want us to add on but hopefully they understand that we are doing it for the local players.

"If I bring in a fifth import, that means someone like Des [Desmond Oh], Mitch [Mitchell Folkoff], Sheng [Lim Sheng Yu] gets less minutes. That is all there is to it. But for us, they are playing 20 plus minutes a game, three or four of them.

"We'll stick with that philosophy. I don't think that was our problem - that we didn't have enough imports - we just didn't have enough scoring punch and guys needs to learn to work harder on their fundamentals."

While imports such as Jones-Jennings - he averaged around 15 points and 15 rebounds per game - obviously excelled with the Singapore outfit others like Cabatu struggled but Johnson is adamant it is the local players who need to take a significant share of the responsibility

The Slingers' system has been designed to not only grow local talent but to provide a platform for players like Desmond Oh and Wong Wei Long to star in.

In Johnson's view, the talent has already been nurtured - it's a professional mentality which has yet to follow suit.

"The local players have made some big steps forward but they've plateaued and they've got to learn to be really good you have to put in extra work - and not just for the team but individually and they don't quite have that mindset yet," Johnson said.

He added: "Kobe Bryant, Michael Jordan did not get to where they were by putting in two hours training with the team."

"They put in eight hour days almost. If they had a bad game, they are out there first thing in the morning to perfect their talent and their craft. Our guys don't have that mindset yet.

"If team training starts at seven, they've got their training gear on at five-to-seven. If training finishes at 10, they finish at 10.01. They need to get more professional to get to the next step."

As the rest of the ABL - minus the sixth-placed Saigon Heat - begin preparing for the Playoffs, the Slingers will undergo an internal review process.

Johnson has already told FOX Sports that coach Neo Beng Siang will be at the club next season.



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