The Art of 4 Imports

The Singapore Slingers are now 4th in the ASEAN Basketball League (ABL) with a 4-5 record. With the departure of Kyle Jeffers from the playing staff in the team, Donald Rashaad-Singleton is faced with the burden of carrying forward a team that was so well anchored by Kyle Jeffers over 3 and a half seasons.

Now, what are the roles of imports in an ABL team?

In most teams, they are the difference between winning and losing, gaining rebounds and providing the teams with the cutting edge.

In the Singapore Slingers, there is an unwritten policy that 4 imports is the right number for the team. Yes, FOUR. At the time of the Frank Arsego era (which lasted for 1 season and the most successful season till date), this policy would definitely be the way forward for the team.

During that time, the 1 local who would play for the Slingers would be Steven Khoo, Hong Wei Jian, Desmond Oh, Wong Wei Long or even Pathman Matialakan. That was the time when the locals really shone. And this is added on to the fact that when all teams in the region took 2 Pinoys as their ASEAN imports, Singapore took 1 with another being a heritage player Marcus Ng.

Back to present times, and we have Coach Neo frowning on who to use as the 1 local. It was to be either Wong Wei Long (in home games) or Desmond Oh. Then the dilemma was further dug deeper with the fact that now, the Slingers need to use 2 local starters in their game, and Mitchell Folkoff enters the fray. But why 2 locals?

Fans would have noted that Santiago Cabatu Junior, better known as Junjun Cabatu, is considered a non-starter in many games. Strategy or not, considering that an import being dropped in favour of a local speaks volume of his capacity in the team, and his very own quality on a whole.

Do we see Saigon Heat dropping Jai Reyes in favour of a local player, or Slammers asking Baguion to rest on the bench while Kongkum takes over his slot in the starting 5?

Fact is: Is the 4 imports only rule still relevant to the Slingers at this stage? We have missed out on the Playoffs last season, in part due to some no-show by our imports, and look likely to continue the trend with the current crop of imports. Is it time for a 5th import in a time where Justin Williams is gracing the ABL and Al-Vergara joining the Saigon Heat?

Do we need to be hit hard before realizing that it’s either the Coach or the Imports have to take responsibility for the plight that we are in, or is it due to ‘external forces’?

Good Old Days When 4 Imports Works (Photo Credits: Francis Espeleta)

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2 thoughts on “The Art of 4 Imports

  1. Franz says:

    I miss the winning ways of the Singapore Slingers…I have been following the team since its inception, when they were still competing in the NBL (Australia). When the ABL began, the Slingers were always in the top 3…and most of the time, they were #1. But since last season, the team seems to struggle. Last season, we saw the worst from the Slingers to a tune of 7-game losing streak. This season, the team is trying to hang on to #4 (when it used to stay comfortably in #1 or 2).

    For me, imports play a big part, and being the higher paid players, they should be the ones carrying the team, the burden is theirs more than the locals, otherwise, what’s the point of getting imports if the load of the work is being given to the locals. I have been following basketball since I was young and its always been a trend that in an import laden league, the imports are the ones expected to score more than the locals, also, they play the most minutes. In the Philippines PBA…if an import is under-performing, he is sent home, and a replacement comes in.

    Other teams in the ABL do replace their imports if they are under-performing, except probably for the Slingers. This is a commercial league and the interest of the fans should be the priority. And since it is a commercial league, imports become commodities or assets. To keep the fans, the team has to be competitive…the more the team wins, the more fans would follow.

    The Vergara-Avenido backcourt tandem plus the Jeffers-Skinner combination were the best for the Singapore Slingers.

    • Totally share your point of view Franz.

      As supporters of Slingers, we hope that the management do what it’s best for the team. I understand that finances is one thing, but balancing the books and winning games are important aspects to winning fans.

      As of today, many people are saying that only expats support Slingers.

      We hope that changes….soon.

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