Basketball: 10 facts about the Singapore Slingers you probably didn't know

Singapore Slingers celebrating after beating Macau Black Bears 81-79 in the third quarter-final match at the OCBC Arena on April 7, 2019 .
Singapore Slingers celebrating after beating Macau Black Bears 81-79 in the third quarter-final match at the OCBC Arena on April 7, 2019 .ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

SINGAPORE - After more than 30 games, it has come down to this best-of-five Finals series - Game 1 tips off at OCBC Arena on Friday (May 3) night - to determine if the Singapore Slingers or CLS Knights Indonesia will win their first Asean Basketball League (ABL) title.

Here are 10 things you should know about the Slingers who are looking to avenge the final losses in the ABL in 2016 and 2017.

1. The Singapore Slingers were formed in 2006 as the nation's first professional basketball team. One of the co-owners is Wee Siew Kim, a former member of parliament and former Basketball Association of Singapore president. He and his partners have invested more than $10 million in the franchise, boosting the standard of the local game along the way.

2. As the Slingers co-owner, general manager, and assistant coach, Michael Johnson is the Slingers' Mr Do-It-All. The 56-year-old is also a former shooting guard who played 70 games for Australia from 1984 to 1998.

3. Slingers head coach Neo Beng Siang is also a former national cager who played as a guard for Singapore from 1989 to 1999.

4. Community work is an integral part of the Singapore Slingers mandate to help promote the sport of basketball. This year, they have conducted around 80 outreach events with various schools and organisations.

5. Slingers forward Delvin Goh played for Brunei's Beruang Blazers in the Yuwang East Malaysia Basketball League in 2016. He also attracted the attention of Thailand Basketball League's Dunkin Raptors that year, although the move did not materialise.

6. Slingers veteran Ng Han Bin is sporting a shaved head as a tribute to Slingers fan Nickson Yee, who died of leukaemia in 2017 when he was just 15. The gesture is also in support of his friends who have been diagnosed with cancer.

7. Goh, Ng, and Slingers alumni Chase Tan and Lim Shengyu emerged from a group of more than 200 audition hopefuls to secure parts in actor Tay Ping Hui's directorial debut in Meeting The Giant, a movie that was screened in 2014.

8. The first season of the Asean Basketball League (ABL) featured six teams. The Slingers are one of the founding members. The only other founding member still playing in the ABL are Westports Malaysia Dragons, while Brunei Barracudas, Indonesia's Satria Muda BritAma, Philippines Patriots and Hi-Tech Bangkok City have sat out.

9. ABL chief executive Jericho Ilagan worked for the Slingers as an intern during the 2010/11 season, after hitting it off with Johnson at a press launch.

10. Only the three American imports (Xavier Alexander, John Fields and Jerran Young), Desmond Oh, Ng and Goh are full-time players in the Slingers roster. Larry Liew is with the police force, Russel Low works in a bank, while many of the locals are still studying or are waiting to enlist or have just completed National Service.