Leon Kwek remembers frequenting the Singapore Indoor Stadium as a schoolboy to watch the Singapore Slingers play.
Which is why the 19-year-old is still surprised after coach Neo Beng Siang called him up to the 12-man squad for the upcoming Asean Basketball League (ABL) season. The 1.88m forward is the team's youngest player.
The Republic Polytechnic student said: "It's been my dream to play for the Slingers since I was 14, so I'm very humbled that the coach trusts me despite my age.
"It's going to be a tough season, but I'm really excited to contribute in any way I can."
Kwek impressed for the national team at last month's Fiba Asia Championships, and scored a team-high 12 points in a group match against South Korea.
Joining him are fellow Singaporean rookies Toh Qing Huang, 20, John Ng, 21 and Kelvin Lim, 19.
Neo said he was impressed by Kwek's tenacity and confidence on court, Toh's shooting, and Lim's non-stop running.
But the coach is not cutting the newcomers any slack.
He said: "We want to develop the local boys, and will try to give them more court time. They need to step up and help the team."
Said Kwek: "I'd like to think I work hard on both offence and defence, and I will try to provide energy coming off the bench, whether it is for 10 seconds or 10 minutes."
Toh added: "Right now I'm trying to be familiar with my team role, but whatever it is, I know I must play hard and hustle on both ends."
Chua Siang Yee