In the local basketball fraternity, it is not often that players get to see their coaches suit up in their jerseys and showcase their skills on the hard wood.
And for the veterans who have been itching to relive their former glory days in competitive basketball, the opportunity presented itself this year with the National Masters Basketball Tournament.
Jointly organised by ActiveSG and the Basketball Association of Singapore (BAS), the tournament for senior players was the first of its kind, and featured some big name coaches and veterans such as Neo Nam Kheng, Chiew Poh Leng, Tan Yee Nee and former basketball ace Wee Kim Chye.
Wee Kim Chye (centre) of Freeman in action against Hong Liang during the men's final. Photo: Sport Singapore
The finals were held over the last weekend and eventually saw the crowning of Freeman and Xragon in the men’s and women’s category respectively.
In the women’s final, Xragon led comfortably throughout and successfully negated a third quarter run by Qian Xi to win 42-28. Tan Yee Nee, who coaches AMK Bravehearts at the Pro-Am Singapore Basketball League, paced the victors with 15 points while Chiew Poh Leng led her team with nine points.
Chiew Poh Leng of Qian Xi (right) goes for a layup against Xragon during the women's final. Photo: Sport Singapore
In the men’s final, Joe So was clutch in the fourth quarter, as his six straight points ended a scoring drought for Freeman and eventually helped them to a 54-42 win over Hong Liang. So finished with a team-high 14 points while Cheng Wei Lung scored 12 points for Hong Liang.
“It’s really a good tournament for us players aged above 40, because we hardly get chances to play now, and I hope this tournament can carry on in the next year,” said Chiew, who coaches Singapore Chinese Girls’ School and Qian Xi at the Women’s National Basketball League.
Such tournaments not only provide senior players an avenue to exercise, it also gives them a chance to catch up and bond with old friends.
“It’s like a gathering, because some of us have not met each other for some time and it’s a good experience to meet up and play again, no doubt, with a competitive spirit,” said So, who is the assistant coach of the men’s national team.
“It’s not about winning. It’s about the friendships and I hope all teams have the same feeling,” Chiew said, after the tournament.