Fit And Fab

Top-level basketballer has only one good kidney

Basketballer Ng Han Bin wants to teach younger players proper techniques so that they can avoid injuries.
Basketballer Ng Han Bin wants to teach younger players proper techniques so that they can avoid injuries. ST PHOTO: ARIFFIN JAMAR

Q Why did you start playing basketball?

A I was introduced to basketball by a friend in primary school. I was somewhat good at it and the feeling of being good at something kept me in the game.

My basketball journey with the Singapore Slingers started seven years ago. The head coach at that time caught an inter-varsity game which I was playing in.

I was then invited to train with the national team and also given a chance to join the Singapore Slingers. We will be competing in the Asean Basketball League, which starts next month. The six-month league pits us against other teams in Asia.

Q How did you end up with one kidney?

A When I was three years old, I kept falling sick. My parents took me to several doctors but were told that the fever was normal. However, they suspected something was wrong and took me to the hospital.

There, they found out that I had hydronephrosis - a condition in which the kidney swells because a blockage prevents urine from draining from the kidney to the bladder. I underwent surgery but it was too late to save my left kidney.

Q How does having only one kidney affect your lifestyle?

A I stay away from salty food and constantly keep myself hydrated. But I can't drink too much water as it may overwork the kidney.

I also can't eat too much protein as my kidney can't process it. I have to take medicine regularly for the rest of my life and I also take a little longer to recover from training.

My medical condition has helped me build a stronger mentality over the years.

I also have calcific tendinitis in my right knee, which causes a lot of pain and makes it hard to bend my knee.

The knee pain started in secondary school but it became much worse two years ago.

After consulting a doctor, I have decided to do therapy for the time being because I still want to play for the team this season. Eventually, I may need to go for an operation to remove the calcium deposits.

My mum is worried about my health. She nags from time to time, to remind me to take care of myself.

Q What keeps you playing basketball despite the challenges?

  • Bio Box


    Age: 28

    Height: 1.94m

    Height: 92kg

    Ng has played for the national team and the Singapore Slingers, a professional team competing in the Asean Basketball League, for the last seven years.

    He was part of the Singapore team that clinched the bronze medal at the SEA Games in 2013 and 2015.

    Ng, a bachelor, studied economics and finance at SIM and graduated in 2013. He has only one functioning kidney, the result of a secondary condition called hydronephrosis. His left kidney was permanently damaged when he was three years old.

    His father, 53, is a taxi driver, and his mother, 54, manages food and beverage stores. He has an elder sister, 29, who is a housewife, and a younger brother, 23, who is an officer in the army.

A At the start, I was simply passionate about basketball. But over the years, I have realised I can make an impact on the younger players.

I want to teach them proper techniques like how to land after a jump, so that they can avoid the kinds of injuries I have suffered.

Initially, my parents were not supportive of my sporting pursuit. They were concerned about my grades as I'd get too tired from training and fall asleep in class.

Back then, my mum didn't attend my matches and my dad tried to discourage me from playing, but they have since accepted that it's my passion.

Q What is your secret to looking fabulous?

A I tend to avoid fast food. Regular weight training in the gym on top of my usual training has also helped me to stay in shape.

Q Has there ever been a time when you were not fit and fab?

A Two years ago, I went to Taiwan and Bangkok during the off-season and gained 5kg in two weeks after indulging in the street food. I really didn't like my stomach bulging out of my tee.

Q What is your diet like?

A Breakfast would usually be something simple, like peanut butter on bread and Milo. I like to have mixed vegetables with rice for lunch. Dinner is usually simple Chinese food, or a good steak on days that I feel like rewarding myself.

I'd eat steak and chicken breast more often during the competition period.

Q What are your indulgences?

A I love to indulge in pearl milk tea, fried chicken and potato chips once in a while.

Q What is the most extreme thing you have done in the name of fitness or diet?

A My coach making the team sprint up hills during the pre-season may be considered extreme because we'd throw up during the run. I threw up a couple of times but I take it that I have pushed myself to my limits when that happens, so that's a positive.

Q Do you think you're sexy?

A No, I'm usually considered weird and I'm embracing my quirks.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 03, 2017, with the headline 'Top-level basketballer has only one good kidney'. Print Edition | Subscribe