Basketball: Reyes out to prove he belongs in the ABL

Guard Lim Jun Yuan and his Slingers team-mates training at the OCBC Arena ahead of this week's Merlion Cup.
Guard Lim Jun Yuan and his Slingers team-mates training at the OCBC Arena ahead of this week's Merlion Cup.ST PHOTO: ARIFFIN JAMAR

His first taste of the Asean Basketball League (ABL) with Taiwanese team Kaohsiung Truth last December ended as soon as it began.

Though Filipino point guard Mikee Reyes impressed in the game against his home country's Alab Pilipinas, scoring 14 points and adding a pair of rebounds and assists, his one-day contract was not extended by the Truth.

The 26-year-old has been given a second shot to show he has what it takes to be in the ABL as one of two potential foreign signings added to the Singapore Slingers' squad for this week's Merlion Cup, which runs from today till Sunday.

Said Reyes of what he brings to the table for the Slingers: "The biggest difference between Kaohsiung and Singapore is that here, they don't need me to be a full-time scorer.

"I have weapons around me, so it's more about being someone who's going to distribute the ball and flow into the offence."

The former University of the Philippines star has not enjoyed the smoothest of paths in professional basketball. He tore his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in 2015, and was not able to realise his dream of playing in the Philippine Basketball Association.

His first involvement with the ABL actually came as part of the league's English broadcast panel.

He was signed by the Truth after interviewing the now-defunct team's coach Tryston Lawrence, when Lawrence revealed the team were in search of a point guard.

A long-term offer with the Truth did not materialise, however, and Reyes has been out of work as a basketball player since then.

"But I just continued to grind and really stuck with it and believe someone out there is going to give me a call," he said.

Joining Reyes as a fellow new face on the Slingers is Canadian centre Ryan Wright. He is coming off a stint with the Joondalup Wolves of Australia's State Basketball League, one tier below the top-tier National Basketball League, where he averaged 17.7 points per game and 7.9 rebounds per game over 18 games.

The 2.06m big man has been touted as a quick and athletic rim protector by Slingers head coach Neo Beng Siang.

"I'm very excited about playing with the team and I think I bring an inside presence, both offensively and defensively," said the 30-year-old, whose eight-year career has seen him play in China, Hungary and Mexico. "I'm an experienced player, an older player but I still feel great and feel like I can bring a lot of energy to the game."

The Slingers take on Taiwan's Yulon Luxgen Dinos in the second of three Merlion Cup matches at the OCBC Arena today.

Defending champions Shanghai Sharks play Indonesia's Satria Muda Pertamina in the opener, with NLEX-SCTEX (Philippines) playing Jeonju KCC Egis (South Korea) in the third.

Australia's Adelaide 36ers play their first game tomorrow.

•Tickets for the Merlion Cup are available at apactix.com

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 20, 2017, with the headline 'Reyes out to prove he belongs in the ABL'. Print Edition | Subscribe