After almost two decades, it is all over for the the Singapore Slingers, always regarded as Singapore’s first professional basketball team.
On 19 November at just past 10.00am, season ticket holders from previous seasons were informed via a direct mail from the management team that not only will the curtains be drawn on the Slingers, but it is over for the ASEAN Basketball League, a mainstay in the local and regional basketball scene since 2009.
The subject heading was sufficient to get the message across loud and clear.
“It is with a heavy heart and great disappointment that the Singapore Slingers ownership announce that the ASEAN Basketball League (ABL) is unlikely to play for the foreseeable future,” the statement read.
It is understood that the information will be announced to all media on 20 November, according to sources close to the TMSG.
In the statement, the management added that the decision had been reached after the world basketball body FIBA did not support the ABL as “the league does not fit into FIBA’s future plans for basketball in the region.”
“After 11 seasons and millions of dollars spent building a strong brand and lifting the standard of regional basketball, the ABL was informed by FIBA that the league does not fit into FIBA’s future plans for basketball in the region,” said the statement.
The management team added that this was because “FIBA will be selective of which leagues it will support and allow moving forward.”
It also said that FIBA’s clear instructions to the regional basketball federations essentially denied the ABL a viable future.”
It is also understood that the ABL has spent the past two years trying to find a compromise with FIBA but without success.
The statement added that the management of the Singapore Slingers will explore how it can continue to be a development platform for top Singapore basketball players through “the active involvement of SportSG”, which is Singapore’s national sports agency.
See full statement.
At 9.00am on 20 November, the Singapore Slingers posted a statement on their website confirming the cessation of the ABL.
SINGAPORE’S FIRST PROFESSIONAL BASKETBALL TEAM
The Slingers have been a feature in the local basketball scene though their competition in the ABL, community outreach programmes as well as its support of the ActiveSG Basketball Academy for the better part of the last 17 years.
They occupied the Singapore Indoor Stadium as their home base during the initial years of operation and then thrilled fans at the OCBC Arena after the Singapore Sports Hub was opened in 2014.
The Slinger Girls, their very own band of cheerleaders, also featured at all home games.
“We believe that the goodwill continues to reside in the fans, players past and present as well as the younger generations of Singaporeans who have been exposed to basketball via the Slingers,” the Singapore Slingers added in their statement.
A Slingers season ticket holder, who alerted TMSG to the email said he was shocked that it was all over for the team and the ABL.
“It was a good property and managed to bring the Singapore Indoor Stadium to life on match days,” he said.
“It is a pity that it is over so suddenly.”
A possible reason for the end of the ABL is commercial as FiBA has a 10-year partnership with the East Asia Basketball League which involves teams from Japan, Chinese Taipei and Korea Republic among others.
This story is developing.
MAIN PHOTO: SINGAPORE SLINGERS
STORY UPDATED AT 10.00am