Basketball: Neo steps down as coach of Singapore's national basketball team after 12 years

Neo Beng Siang, Singapore's basketball team coach.
Neo Beng Siang, Singapore's basketball team coach.PHOTO: ST FILE

After 12 years in charge, Neo Beng Siang is stepping down as the head coach of the Singapore men's basketball team when his contract expires at the end of next month.

The former national player had wanted to relinquish his post after guiding the Republic's men's team to a second straight SEA Games bronze medal last June, but was persuaded to stay on by the Basketball Association of Singapore (BAS).

Neo's contract with the Asean Basketball League table-toppers Singapore Slingers expires at the end of the season in March but he is open to continuing with the club.

Last week, he decided not to extend his contract, saying: "It's time for me to step down to spend more time with my family. I've decided to inform the BAS early to let it have enough time to find a new coach.

"Over the years I've seen the young players mature and play a higher level of basketball. I've left a strong team behind and anyone who takes over should be able to make Singapore basketball proud."

Delvin Goh, a centre for both the national team and the Slingers, said: "He is more than just a coach. On the court, he is very demanding, as he should be, but off the court, he's very friendly and always checks in to see how we are doing in our personal lives."

BAS honorary secretary Ong Swee Teck added: "He (Neo) has raised the playing standards of the national team, and you can see the local players playing very well with the Slingers. We are very happy with his performance, and as much as we want him to stay, we respect his decision."

A post on the BAS' website said it is looking for a new technical director who will double up as the national team's head coach. More than 10 applications have been received so far, and Ong hopes an appointment can be made in March.

Neo, 48, picked clinching the 2013 SEA Games bronze medal in Naypyitaw as the best moment of his tenure. It was the men's side's first medal in 34 years. "Waiting so long for a medal... that, for me, was a moment which convinced me we were on the right track," he said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 26, 2016, with the headline 'Neo steps down as S'pore coach after 12 years'. Print Edition | Subscribe