Singapore basketball player invited to join Thai pro team

Singapore basketball player invited to join Thai pro team
Delvin Goh (center) represents a big breakthrough for Singapore basketball.
PHOTO: The New Paper

The Singapore Slingers' stirring run to the ASEAN Basketball League (ABL) final captured the imagination of fans here and also made foreign teams take notice of their players.

Thailand Basketball League's (TBL) Dunkin Raptors have made an approach to sign 2.02m centre Delvin Goh for the upcoming season from June to August.

It is believed that he is the first local cager to be invited to sign for a foreign professional team, at least in recent years.

All six teams in the TBL are allowed to sign one world import, while the bottom three clubs can register an extra ASEAN import.

The Raptors finished bottom of the standings last season.

Goh, who turns 21 next Thursday, confirmed the news with The New Paper yesterday, but said he could well turn the offer down.

"I have yet to receive my enlistment notice and, if it clashes with the TBL season, then I will most likely go for National Service because it is compulsory and I don't like to trouble anyone for a deferment," he explained.

Goh signed for the Slingers as a 16-year-old when he already was nearly two metres tall and has improved by leaps and bounds.

As a starter this season, he averaged 3.3 points and 3.9 rebounds per game across 28 matches, as the Slingers made the ABL Finals for the first time.

And the Raptors took notice.

"Their general manager Pete Aphaisuwan contacted me on Facebook last week and my initial reaction was a mix of shock and excitement," Goh recounted.

"I had to make sure that everything was real and I had a discussion with (Slingers general manager) Michael Johnson, and he knows of Pete, so I felt more assured.

"If it happens, this would be good exposure for Singapore basketball, and it would open doors for the next generation.

"Currently, most ASEAN imports are Filipinos, so this could let others know that there are good basketballers in Singapore, too.

"Someone has to take the first step and it would be a great honour if that's going to be me. I will continue to work hard and perform to the best of my abilities."

The Slingers' lost the Finals series to the Westports Malaysia Dragons 3-2.

IMPRESSIVE

En route, Goh impressed in the semi-final triumph over Hi-Tech Bangkok City.

The final-year Nanyang Polytechnic electrical computer communications engineering student put up a superb performance in Game 2 in Thailand, scoring 12 points and restricting the ABL's top defensive player Christien Charles - he averaged 17.9 points per game in the regular season - to 13 points.

After that 95-66 rout, Goh proved he wasn't a one-off when Charles scored just eight points in a 68-60 home win that sent the Slingers to the Finals.

Johnson believes Goh represents a big breakthrough for Singapore basketball.

"There are many foreign players the Thai teams can go for, but they have set their eyes on a Singaporean," he said.

"Delvin is a good player who has performed well in the ABL this season.

"While we wish him well, let's not get ahead of ourselves because he is still a young player with a long road ahead of him."

davidlee@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on April 5, 2016.
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