The BAS Veteran Cup saw basketball veterans from all over Singapore pitting their ball skills against one another. (Photo by VoxSports)
The Singapore Basketball Centre teemed with anticipation as basketball veterans island-wide battled it out in the semi-finals of the BAS Veteran Cup on 22 January. In the spirit of friendship, the Basketball Association of Singapore (BAS) organised this competition for the first time in history, bringing some of our most seasoned ballers head to head with one another.
With national team coach Neo Beng Siang and assistant national team coach Tan Chin Hong up against each other, the match between New City (LS) and Tampines West Majestic was definitely an intense one.
Medals and trophies aside, this round of competition poignantly exhibited the strong bonds forged between these players over a common passion for their sport.
When asked how he felt about going up against his fellow assistant coach, Mr Neo replied: “It’s not a matter of winning, it’s about gathering and looking for our old friends.”
Mr Tan echoed these sentiments, commenting that they played purely for the enjoyment of the game: “We enjoy our basketball games, and we also get to look back on the players we knew last time.”
New City (LS) won the semi-final match 52-27 and lifted the trophy as they saw off the challenge from New City (3S) and scored a victory with a 75-54 scoreline in the final on 26 January.
Evidently, basketball is more than just an obligation or a competitive sport to these veterans. Many of these players have been balling for over 20 years, a handful of which have become coaches of their own basketball teams in primary, secondary and tertiary institutions.
Basketball has a long drawn history in Singapore, beginning from as early as the 1920s. In the 1979 Jakarta Games, Singapore’s basketball team earned their first Southeast Asian (SEA) Games bronze medal. This was followed by an arduous 34 year wait before they finally earned a second bronze medal in the 2013 SEA Games in Myanmar.
Eddie Chua, a basketball veteran from the 1979 Jakarta Games, expressed optimism towards our young players today. He remarked: “I’m quite happy to watch the development of the new generation…It is very encouraging.”
However, on a more serious note, he also reiterated the need for our players to stay on top of their game, especially when playing against larger and stronger opponents from neighbouring countries.
He stressed the need for ‘discipline and commitment’ among young players: “We are improving, no doubt, but the rate at which we are improving is slower than our neighbours.”
Jerome Tan, a player from New City (LS) also expressed his hopes for the competitions ahead: “We are looking forward to greater results… Now it is just a matter of how [our young players] push on to greater heights.”
Indeed, Singapore’s basketball youths have a treasure trove of wisdom to pick up from these experienced players, as well as develop the same intimate bonds that bind these players to their sport and to one another.