Basketball: Singapore Slingers to use Merlion Cup to test potential foreign signing Jeff Viernes

SINGAPORE - The Singapore Slingers plan to test potential signing point guard Jeff Viernes from the Philippines in the Merlion Cup from Sept 21-25 to see if they should sign him for next season's Asean Basketball League.

Head coach Neo Beng Siang said: "Hopefully (Viernes) can adapt fast enough to get our team ready because he's our point guard.

"(Wong) Wei Long is still there but (Viernes) will need to get everybody organised in a team offence that will play a big part (to their success)."

Kris Rosales, one of their three foreign players last season, has left to play in the Philippines.

Neo relishes the opportunity for the Slingers to take on top-quality teams such as Yao Ming's Shanghai Sharks and Philippines Mighty Sport at the Merlion Cup, which is making a comeback after a 20-year hiatus.

He said: "This is the first time our boys will get to play with such high-level teams, especially the (Seoul Samsung Thunders), the Philippines (Mighty Sport) and the Shanghai Sharks. It's a very good experience to play against them and hopefully get something out of it before our ABL season starts.

"We want the team to be ready for next season but we want something from this. If we can make it to the semi-finals, that's even better."

The Merlion Cup will also boast sides such as ABL champions Westport Malaysia Dragons, and Chinese Taipei's Kinmen Kaoling Liquor.

Organisers hope to build from this year's edition and attract more clubs in the future.

President of the Basketball Association of Singapore, David Ong, said: "A lot of the basketball fraternity talk about the Merlion Cup in quite a nostalgic way, they love it. We've seen how much this means to the basketball fraternity.

"We will step up efforts to get more teams from other countries like the Americas, Australia, Europe... If we do it right (and make it) well-managed and successful then we can attract bigger teams to come."