Basketball: Shanghai Sharks set for tough Merlion Cup defence

Slingers guard Ng Han Bin believes Australia's Adelaide 36ers are the favourites to win next month's Merlion Cup.
Slingers guard Ng Han Bin believes Australia's Adelaide 36ers are the favourites to win next month's Merlion Cup.ST FILE PHOTO

A single point proved decisive for the Shanghai Sharks, as they defeated the Philippines' Mighty Sports by the narrowest of margins to clinch last year's Merlion Cup.

This year, the competition is set to get tougher as the Sharks return to Singapore to defend their title.

The six-team basketball tournament will return to the OCBC Arena from Sept 20-24.

Joining the Sharks will be local professional team the Singapore Slingers, together with four new foreign teams - South Korea's Jeonju KCC Egis, the Philippines' Alab Pilipinas, Chinese Taipei's Yulon Luxgen Dinos and Australia's Adelaide 36ers. The 36ers will be the first Australian team competing in the Merlion Cup since the Melbourne Tigers in 1994.

Slingers guard Ng Han Bin believes they will be the team to beat, having recorded a 14-game winning streak en route to finishing first in Australia's National Basketball League regular season.

He said: "I think playing them will be a good experience, and open our eyes to basketball at another level. Their participation in the Cup will definitely be good for Singapore basketball, fans and players alike."

Nonetheless, competition for the trophy is expected to be tight, said organising committee chairman Tan Jong See.

"The teams we invited were of equally high calibre, we wanted to ensure the matches would be competitive so that fans get the best experience," he said.

Many of the teams involved are past or current champions of their respective domestic leagues.

Five-time Korean Basketball League champions KCC and 2002 Chinese Basketball Association champions Shanghai also boast former National Basketball Association (NBA) players.

KCC's shooting guard Andre Emmett played for the Memphis Grizzlies from 2004 to 2005 while Sharks guard Jimmer Fredette played for the Sacramento Kings, Chicago Bulls, New Orleans Pelicans, and New York Knicks.

Looking to bolster fan engagement, the Basketball Association of Singapore (BAS) has a slew of activities lined up before the five-day competition. They include clinics by coaches of the visiting teams, school visits, meet-and-greet sessions by players, and a day-long Basketball Festival on Sept 17 at the Sports Hub's OCBC Square.

Said BAS president David Ong: "Last year, fans were able to savour the high standard of play from these international teams. The tournament brought our community together to watch, play and talk basketball."

• Tickets sales begin today for early-bird packages, while individual match tickets will go on sale on Monday. More information on the competition can be found online at

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 03, 2017, with the headline 'Shanghai Sharks set for tough Merlion Cup defence'. Print Edition | Subscribe