“Six local boys have snagged professional [Slingers] contracts” according to Redsports Media . “Ng Hanbin, 22, Delvin Goh, 16, and Steven Khoo, 26, join the trio of Desmond Oh, 25, Wong Wei Long, 23, and Lim Shengyu, 21, who were first confirmed in November.”
That leaves 2 more local spots up for grabs.
With the signing of Delvin Goh, 16, current Unity Secondary School star centre, Slingers have created ABL history with the youngest basketball player ever signed for an ABL team. The Straits Times reported that Delvin will continue schooling and play for the Slingers on a paid allowance. With that, he has also officially become the first-ever professional paid athletic in Singapore’s sports history to play for a professional team while in secondary school.
For those who haven’t heard much about Delvin, the guys from Jumpshot did an interview with him sometime last year. Back then he was 197cm tall, but it is rumoured that he has since grown to an astonishing 203 cm.
Here’s a photo of the rookie, Delvin, measuring up to a 202 cm Pathman, taken during the recent 2011 SEA games:
Amongst ballers of his age group, Delvin is certainly in a class of his own. He has played in numerous international competitions – most recently in the SEA games, where he averaged 3.0 points, 5.3 rebounds, 1.0 assists and 1.3 blocks in just 17 minutes per game. Most notably, he recorded career highs of 9 points, 10 rebounds and 3 block shots when the national team played Vietnam in the 5th-6th placing.
Delvin’s best skills as a player are his rebounding and shot blocking, coupled with his size and length and quick feet (an rare entity for a big man). With his agility and quickness, he runs the floor almost like a small forward – a valuable asset in the fast-paced high-energy ABL style of play. Better still, he is only 16 years old, with countless more years to play and develop himself as a professional player. Right now, he is probably the brightest spot in Singapore’s basketball future. And GM Michael Johnson has probably done the right thing by wasting no time and getting him on the Slingers’ roster this upcoming season.
From the recent SEA games outfit, the nation has witnessed how having the Slingers around greatly improved the quality of Singapore’s basketball. No longer is the Singapore national team far behind their rivals Malaysia and Indonesia, but has proven that they can fight tooth-and-nail with the two teams. Singapore gave Indonesia a scare by losing marginally 80-75 to the host national on host’s turf. This is extremely promising.
And what did the Slingers do?
They looked to the future.
It’s time now for the team to groom new potential-brimming players like Delvin. We all know what the national team’s veterans – Michael Wong, Koh Meng Koon and Pathman Matialakan – are capable of. But if Slingers are looking to push for the title and establish themselves as contenders in the ABL, they would certainly have to field new prospective players with the potential to compete at a higher level than the current squad.
That’s what I think the Slingers is doing this season. Delvin Goh is only one of the three young guns are going to make the squad. With two more coveted places left on the roster, will the Slingers take the gamble, drop the ageing Pathman from the team and look into the future?
The chances are likely. There are two other reasons for this.
1) The extended ABL season
No longer is the ABL season going to be a mere 15-game one. The league, with effect from this year, has increased the number of teams from 6 to 8 with 3 new teams – the San Miguel Beermen, Saigon Heat and Bangkok Cobras – joining the mix (Brunei Barracudas pulled out from this season). The season is henceforth going to increase to 21 games, and might further expand in future. With a longer season, the Slingers need players that can take the toll of 6 additional games, and the way to go is to look to high-energy explosive young guns to carry them.
2) The search for a new local star
With “Flyboy” Hong Wei Jian forced into early unfortunate retirement, the Slingers have not been given a distinct local face that can properly sell the team. Hong Wei Jian was certainly able to do so in the first ABL season. He was able to appear in numerous ads that brought much public awareness to the team. He gave a reason to local fans to buy tickets just to see him play. Now that the star power is lost, the local identity of the Slingers is in question. Veterans Steven “Yakuza” Khoo, Desmond “D-Glove” Oh and Wong Wei Long, have taken turns to lead the team, but still lack the consistency that Wei Jian possessed in the first season. With an upcoming and improved Lim Sheng Yu, who now starts for the national team, the Slingers could look to the former Hwa Chong Institution player and groom him into a prospective star, but that’s not yet a guarantee. The Slingers have then to look into the future, to scout new players that perhaps, with fingers-crossed, have one that will fill that vital role the team needs.
It is also rumoured that the final two local spots will be filled up by Tan Hong Kwang and Ow Yu Jie, who were spotted in Slingers uniform during the Broome Beach Invitational. Did these two young players just flying off together with the team as the prepare for the upcoming “To Be No. 1 Basketball Challenge,” fund-raising ABL PreSeason Tournament in Bangkok?
Let’s see if you can spot them here: