Currently in his 5th year with the Singapore Slingers and embarking on his 6th season this year, national basketball player Wong Wei Long is a veteran of the sport.
The 26 year old is also a celebrity of sorts in Bishan. From receiving a more generous portion of chicken rice to priority access to the basketball court, Wei Long shares more about his childhood times in the neighbourhood where he has lived in for over 20 years.
Q. Where is your area of residence?
A. Currently Balestier, but I have lived in Bishan almost all of my life.
Q. What childhood memory or place do you recall most fondly of?
A. I used to play basketball regularly with my neighbours, who were just a call away. We would play at the outdoor court (now an indoor court) near my house. Even though I no longer live in Bishan, I still go back to play whenever possible.
Q. Do people in your previous neighbourhood recognise you?
A. Yes. The uncle who sells chicken rice at Dim Sum Link (near Bishan bus interchange) is extremely supportive of local athletes. He would give me a more generous portion of chicken rice knowing that I’m a national basketball player.
Some regular players at the Bishan basketball would also recognise me and clear the court when I go back to shoot hoops.
Q. What is your daily schedule like?
A. My days tend to be packed, especially on weekdays. From Monday to Friday, my mornings are spent training with the national team. I would head to NTU for lessons in the afternoon, then coach students in my academy (www.ScholarBasketball.com) in the evening. Training with the national team would resume at night, until 10pm. I would catch up on my work at home after training and be in bed at 2am.
Q. How do your parents feel about your career in basketball?
A. My parents are extremely supportive. They have flown overseas several times to catch my games. I am close to my parents, and would try to have meals with them often.
Q. When and how were you first acquainted with the sport?
A. I started playing basketball at the age of 10 with my dad and loved the sport ever since. I played it almost every day and still do now!
Q. How have you progressed from there?
A. I have been playing competitively since 11. After winning the Nike One-on-One championship at 16, I joined the national youth team. Now, I am part of the Singapore Slingers and this year marks my 6th season.
Q. How do you keep yourself motivated?
A. Steve Nash once said, “The true test of a man's character, is what he does when no one is watching.” Basketball requires a lot of practice and I train by myself often when I’m not with the team. When I was younger, I was determined to be a better player than my peers. I would take on stronger opponents and learn from those experiences.
Q. What is the most interesting memory you have when playing your sport?
A. In the 2014 ASEAN Basketball League, we (Singapore Slingers) played against the undefeated Hi-Tech Bangkok City. It was a dramatic victory where we scored a rebound shot in overtime and won 78-75.
Q. If you could have a superpower, which would you choose?
A. Definitely Mr. Fantastic from Fantastic Four. With elastic limbs, I can reach my hands out to get food from the market instead of going down. Being able to stretch makes it easier for others to search for me in a crowd.