SINGAPORE - After 121 appearances over nine seasons with the Singapore Slingers, Ng Han Bin called time on his professional basketball career last August, citing the toll of multiple injuries on his body.
A pain-ridden 2019 season saw the forward dealing with injuries to his knees, quadriceps, achilles, heel and hips. The 31-year-old often limped home after training and woke up most mornings feeling like he was walking on needles.
But barely six months after throwing in the towel, Ng has returned to the basketball court, as he believes that his work is not done yet.
"Last season, I was in a lot of pain physically and I always thought that was all that was left in my tank," he said.
"But what I lacked was rest and I've been resting a lot, doing bits of rehab as well and I feel better now.
"This season, I kept questioning my decision and I didn't want to live with that. Some time ago, I decided to give my all to my sport, and I want to (be able to) look back and know that I gave my all."
He made a winning return to the Slingers last Wednesday (Jan 29), as the hosts defeated Saigon Heat 101-67 in their ninth game of the season. Ng also received a warm reception from the 800-strong crowd when his name was announced in the line-up ahead of tip off.
Ng, who has been training with the Slingers for a month, said: "It really feels good to see supporters welcoming me back with open arms, their excitement makes me excited.
"But I've got a lot to catch up on. It's a good reminder that there's a lot of work to be put in."
Now that he is back in the fold, Ng hopes to provide support to local players like Leon Kwek and Delvin Goh, who have been regular starters for the Slingers. With the team boasting foreign imports Anthony McClain, Marcus Elliot and Xavier Alexander this season, Ng also wants to see the local cagers step up and contribute more consistently.
The Slingers are currently seventh in the 10-team Asean Basketball League (ABL) and will need to post more victories in their remaining 15 games for a shot at the ABL Finals. They play Alab Pilipinas on Sunday night, and an away win will see them moving up to sixth spot.
Slingers coach Neo Beng Siang said: "His experience and shooting ability can definitely help us as a team, but that also depends on him getting back on track faster.
"But he has been training with us and that's the passion and love that he has."
Such is his dedication to the game that even after his retirement last year, Ng remains heavily involved in the basketball community.
He has been coaching at the ActiveSG Basketball Academy with the Slingers, conducts coaching clinics in schools and is involved in a support group for fans.
He said: "This drive to give back to the basketball community will never stop. Basketball is not really just a skill, but a way to impact lives.
"Kids watch the game, it'll be good if we can have a positive voice in the community that can help grow a lot of better young players."