Singapore Slingers one of 6 teams in new ASEAN Basketball League

By Les Tan/Red Sports

Manila, Tuesday, September 1, 2009 – The Singapore Slingers was one of six new teams announced this afternoon for the new ASEAN Basketball League tipping off on October 10, 2009.

The other five teams are the Brunei Barracudas, the Kuala Lumpur Dragons, the Philppine Patriots, Satria Muda BritAma (Indonesia) and the Thailand Tigers.

The driving force behind the league is Tony Fernandes, the founder of AirAsia.

“If we wait for politicians and governments to get together, we’ll be waiting for a long, long time,” said Fernandes at the press conference today.

The Malaysian entrepreneur is the chairman of the ASEAN Basketball League and has lined up private business owners in the different countries to set up teams that will cost about US$1 million each to run.

Each team is allowed a maximum of 5 imports – 2 international and 3 ASEAN players. Locals will fill the remaining seven slots on the 12-man roster. There is a salary cap of US$10,000 for the import players.

The league will play from October 2009 to February 2010 on a home-and-away basis. The teams will play each other 3 times and the top four teams will go into a best-of-3 semi-finals. The final is a best-of-5 series.

The league is also looking to develop youth talent and each team will commit time and resources to have a youth development squad for locals.

“The aim of the league is to develop local players who can earn a living from basketball,” said Fernandes.

There are also plans for expansion beyond the current 6 teams.

“We don’t want to be just limited to a 6-team league,” said Dr Mikee Romero, team owner of the Philippine Patriots. “Our dream is to have 20 teams in 3 years’ time. This is Asia’s answer to the NBA – and we are the ABL.”

On hand from the Singapore Slingers were Singaporean players Pathman Matialakan and Hong Wei Jian, the first two local players who have signed contracts with the Slingers for the new season.

“I’m very excited. It’s something to look forward to,” said Pathman, who has played with the Slingers since they set up in Singapore in 2006.

“Instead of playing only 3-4 games a year [as a national player] and having nothing to look forward to, we now have a league.”

Wei Jian was glad to have a contract to play pro ball.

“It’s a load off my back! Finally! Waiting for it!” said Wei Jian, who finished off the season last year for the Slingers with a memorable dunk at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.

The Slingers have also signed up Filipino Al Vergara to the roster. Vergara played for the Slingers last season.

Marcus Ng is the other ASEAN player who will suit up for the Slingers. He is the younger brother of ex-Slinger Darren Ng.

Two Americans have been signed as well and now only one import spot remains unfilled.

The other Singaporean players will be announced when they sign their contracts.

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9 comments

  1. lol

    wow,i am glad to hear that there is the world club championship.some of the players i have seen before in singapore deserve to be there competing against the very best.such players is wong wei long,lim wai sian,edwin low and boon kiat(i am sure these 2 players will be a success if they choose to pursue a basketball carier bcos they r still so young yet so they play like a seasoned veteran)pathman and of course michael wong.all these players work so hard,they r the best in singapore,they deserve to be playing against the best.i will definitely b coming down to the indoor stadium to support them if they r gnna b playing.they deserve it for all their hardwork.

  2. junwei

    @lol:

    China probably doesn’t wanna send a team cos this is the ASEAN Basketball League, not the Asian Basketball League, so it’d probably involve teams from Southeast Asia… :)

    Maybe we needa build up our credibility first before we take on the teams from the rest of Asia.

  3. lol

    maybe it looks kind of impossible to see the chqampion of the NBA facing the champion of the ABL but what is the purpose of this league?it is to raise awareness in basketball in asia.which is long overdue and to do that you need to bring in more foreigners in order to raise the bar.there must b more than 6 teams playing as well so as to make the competition competitive.i feel that not every asian country have teams that r looking forward to play in this league.probably only singapore and indonesia?countries like china wouldnt even want to send a team.i mean cmon,this is suppose to be the ABL,asian’s answer to the NBA,u gtta b kiddin me if the country with the best asian ballers r not even participating,how can we call it asians answer to the NBA?to make it succesful,there must b a media who hype it up.who will know what kobe say during his run to the finals if theres no media hyping it up?who will know about the kobe-shaq feud?media to me,play a large part in getting the audience to watch the ABL.i just hope it will b a huge success.asians hav as much potential in basketball as america,we just dont have the platform to succedd,they have the NBA,WHILE WHAT DO WE HAVE?now at last maybe,this is the something that everyone is looking forward to.a platform to showcase their talent.

  4. passerby

    doubt that will happen because even though the euro league has been around for quite some time, there havent been a euro champ vs nba champ, david stern is smart enough to keep the nba teams among themselves to avoid any opportunities that might lead to the rise of other leagues, so the only chance you will see such games would be pre-season friendly where results are irrelevant


    1. Post author
      Les

      There will be a FIBA World Club championship. The winner of the ABL will play in that championship next year. The club championship will look to include NBA teams.

  5. lol

    why only 3 asean players?for each team?why dont make it 4 locals?4 asian?and another 4 imports?so as to raise the standard of the game.anywyay thank you mr tony fernandes for trying to make this possible.and also why dont we get teams from countries like china?and japan?the asian powerhouses?
    hopefully 1 day,the ABL will b a success so that the winner of the ABL playoff can face the winner of the NBA?to determine who really is the best in basketball.instead of just an LA lakers-boston celtics finals every year.we can have a slingers-lakers finals.now wouldnt that b a mouth-watering prospect?watching our homegrown talents playing against the like of kobe bryant?of course some people will laugh at this suggestion.but i am sure it will b possible 1 day.instead of watching the FINALS in ESPN,we can watch it live at singapore indoor stadium.now thats where amazing happens.

  6. Pohui

    Hmm… this unique idea finally set in place.. the success of this venture should set the pace for other sports to follow, although personally, I’m not sure if football would be one of them given how the game is rooted in each and individual countries at this stage.

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