from left: Coach Neo Beng Siang, Al Vergara, Desmond Oh, Larry Liew, Dior Lowhorn, Delvin Goh, Justin Howard, Russel Low, Ng Han Bin, Wu Qing De, Tan Chin Hong, Wong Wei Long, Assistant Coach Michael Johnson
It would come as no surprise that most basketball fans would jump at the chance to catch top competitors such as NBA teams, LA Lakers or the Boston Celtics in action.
Look no further as we introduce the Singapore Slingers!
Singapore Slingers is our first and only professional basketball team that comprise of ex-NBA players, some imports and mostly locals.
Slingers started out in 2006 as the only Asian-based basketball club to compete in Australia’s National Basketball League (NBL). At that time, most of the team comprised of foreign players as competition matches were held overseas. In 2008, the club pulled out of the NBL and started competing in the Singapore Challenge Series where they played against nations such as Philippines, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, India and Australia. In 2009, the Singapore Slingers began participating in the ASEAN basketball league.
The Slingers have come a long way. The founding of the team has certainly contributed to the growth of the national team, providing our local players a platform to gain competition experience and improve their skills.
After all, the National team did bag the bronze medal at the 2013 South East Asia (SEA) games in Myanmar.
“I think basketball is more recognised in Singapore now, especially after the recent SEA games. This is the nation’s first (bronze) medal in basketball after 34 years. With this win, hopefully, more youngsters will be inspired to join and play basketball,” said 47-year-old Mr Neo Beng Siang, the head coach of the Singapore Slingers.
Mr Neo has been coaching the Slingers for seven years. He started off as an assistant coach for the first 3 years and it is now his fourth year as the head coach of the team. Coach Neo believes in physical training because without physical fitness, players will struggle to play a full game. He is also a strong believer of teamwork.
“I believe that basketball is all about the team. Team energy, effort, execution and good defence win games,” he says. “If someone makes a mistake, the whole team gets punished - that’s basically basketball.”
The Slingers have been improving year on year. They stick to the philosophy of fostering local talent and not relying on imports and big budget to win games. Team Captain, Kyle Jeffers (currently out of action due to injury incurred mid-way during the ABL regular season) who turns 29 this year hails from California. Jeffers has played basketball at the highest level in university back in the states and has seen the Slingers progressed since he joined.
“We have definitely grown. Just look at Wong Wei Long, from not even playing to now, averaging 15-16 points alone. You can see the growth in numbers as well as the experience, maturity and leadership,” said Jeffers. “Now is the time to take it to the next level and make it to the championships round and win the league.”
“The local players are getting better. Previously, we are always bullied by others during our overseas games because we are smaller in size. But now it is very different,” said Oh Wei Jie Desmond, one of the pioneer players in Singapore Slingers.
The popularity of basketball is growing as more supporters are turning up at games to support the Singapore Slingers.
“When we first started, you can count the number of people who came to support. Now, most of the seats are taken up,” he further adds.
Financial support aside, what really motivates the team is support from their country and people. This might just be what the Slingers will need to win the championships.
The Singapore Slingers will be playing their 2nd play-off match against Hi-Tech Bangkok City this Friday, 31st October 2014 at the OCBC Arena. Come on down to cheer them on. Purchase your tickets from Sports Hub Tix.