S'pore's 3x3 basketballers aiming for improvement after challenging debut

Playing in a major 3x3 basketball competition for the first time, the men's and women's national teams knew it would be a challenging campaign at the SEA Games.

While both finished sixth out of seven teams, they still had plenty of positives to take from their outing.

After the competition, which made its debut at the 2019 Games, ended yesterday, women's captain Lim Jia Min said while the players were not as used to the game, they still had an interesting and fun experience. She added: "Ten minutes pass by very quickly, so you have to be in the game at the right time. But in that sense, it's easier because it's anybody's game and everyone has a chance (to win).

"We could be better but we tried our best and did what we could. With more time and exposure playing against other teams, we can get more used to the intensity and figure out a way to prepare better."

The stands around Thanh Tri Gymnasium were filled with spectators, but the drumming and loudest cheers were reserved for the Vietnamese teams. The non-stop cheering was matched by the sounds of shoes squeaking and balls bouncing as players dodged, dunked and defended.

Confined to a smaller field of play, the players' movements were quicker and sharper compared to the five-a-side game.

While men's co-captain Leon Kwek, 25, was disappointed with their placing, he was still proud of the team and added they were still trying to find their identity.

He explained: "The Vietnamese rely on the two-pointers while the Philippines like to play one point at a time. We have to (use these games to) figure out what's something we're good at and stick to that and see how it evolves."

Co-captain Delvin Goh, 27, echoed Kwek's sentiments and added that the team have to strengthen themselves for the faster-paced game and work on their three-point shooting.

He added: "(The scheduling) is very different and tough for us because we haven't been on this kind of schedule before. In the five-on-five, we play one game a day but we played three in one day for this."

Both teams' participation is also a building block for the future, said Kwek, as Basketball Association of Singapore president Koh Koon Teck had earlier expressed his goal of Singapore qualifying for the 2032 Olympics. The discipline made its debut in Tokyo last year.

The players will get another chance to compete when Singapore hosts the Fiba 3x3 Asia Cup in July. National players Pauline Ang, Chin Wan Qing and Shermaine See will represent Singapore in the women's event while Kwek, Goh, Larry Liew and Lim Jun Yuan - the SEA Games team - will compete in the men's event.

Lim Jia Min, 30, added: "Being able to watch this live, more people will want to get into it and this was a good start to let people know about this opportunity and... there's a chance to be good at it."

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on May 15, 2022, with the headline S'pore's 3x3 basketballers aiming for improvement after challenging debut. Subscribe