Basketball player Ng Hanbin hoping for even better at this year's SEA Games

Basketball player Ng Hanbin hoping for even better at this year's SEA Games
National basketballer Ng Han Bin (L)

Sprint. Jump. Bump. Stretch.

Day and night, 10 times a week.

At one stage they all seemed beyond Ng Hanbin, whose hopes of pursuing a basketball career looked as if it would be only a pipe dream.

With only one functioning kidney - the other failed at age three - the rigours of the game were apparently too dangerous for him.

But, in a remarkable show of resilience, courage and determination, Ng is set to play a key role in the men's national team as they battle for a medal at the SEA Games in Singapore from June 5 to 16.

Speaking to The New Paper recently, the 26-year-old said: "Because of my condition, after training or matches, I can't take protein powder and recovery supplements.

"So I can only spend more time in the gym to bulk up. I need to stay hydrated, but I also have to be careful not to over-hydrate." A friend introduced Ng to the game when he was nine.

Even though his one good kidney was functioning well, doctors at the time warned that contact sports were dangerous because of the knocks and the possibility of injuries.

But, going against medical advice and without the consent of his parents, Ng chased his basketball dream.

At 17, he was called up to the national youth team.

DEBUT

In 2006, Ng played in his first international match against Western Australia and the Singaporeans lost by almost 100 points.

But the shooting guard kept improving and was rewarded when the country's first professional basketball club, the Singapore Slingers, gave him his debut in 2010 in the fledgling ASEAN Basketball League.

It all seemed to be going well, but in 2013, Ng nearly gave it all up after his platelet count reached dangerously low levels when tonsillitis struck.

"I also suffered from tendonitis in my knee and, when I was playing, I wasn't playing well. It looked like I wouldn't make the cut for the SEA Games (2013 Myanmar Games). After all these setbacks, I just thought it was a sign to quit," said Ng.

The devout Christian prayed and decided to give it one last shot, attending a training camp in China with the national team even though he wasn't fit.

He did well enough to make the cut, and went on to be a key member of the team that broke a 34-year Games medal drought by winning bronze in Myanmar.

IMPRESSED

Everyone was impressed, including Neo Beng Siang, the men's team coach for this year's SEA Games squad.

"Han Bin has really picked up in these last two years. We know about his physical condition and we do monitor him, but his mentality is to push as hard as possible, and we can see his leadership on and off court," said Neo.

Ng's parents, who have attended his matches, will be there at the OCBC Arena to give their support during the SEA Games.

Neo believes home support will be a crucial factor as his team try to upset favourites the Philippines and Thailand.

"We have home court advantage, we have to aim high," said Neo, who has been in charge of the men's national team for 12 years.

"We matched the Philippines two years ago and were tied at half time, but got killed by our one-on-one containment in the second half. So we continue to work on our defence."

Ng added: "Winning the bronze medal for the first time after 34 years was a good stepping stone for us in terms of belief. When you don't see results, you tend to have a lot of doubt.

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