Taller players boost medal hopes on court

Taller players boost medal hopes on court
Member of the Singapore Slingers basketball team in action during a training session.

SINGAPORE - BIGGER players mean Singapore have higher hopes of grabbing an elusive basketball medal at the SEA Games.

According to national captain Desmond Oh, the lack of size caused the Republic's downfall two years ago, when they crashed out at the group stage.

By regional standards, the squad stands tall this time with an average height of 1.9m, up by five centimetres, which is a boon for rebounds and blocked shots.

Players and officials are equally bullish about their medal prospects, even though Singapore last won a medal in basketball at the 1979 Manila Games.

Oh describes the squad - with an average age of 22 - as being "much more committed" and "a lot more disciplined" than the 2011 batch.

"We used to have more guards than centres - we needed height badly and now we got that, plus some younger legs," said the shooting guard, who is the team's oldest player at 27.

The offence is built around promising 2.01m centre Delvin Goh, 18, who plays for the Singapore Slingers in the ASEAN Basketball League.

The results have been encouraging. During a training tour in China last month, the team won three of their five games, including one against a national development side.

They also went on a week-long stint in Manila to learn from the region's basketball powerhouses. The Philippines have dominated the sport, taking gold in 15 out of 16 SEA Games. They are the clear favourites once again, and are coming off an impressive second-place finish at the Fiba Asia Championship in August.

Singapore coach Neo Beng Siang believes it will be a tussle between the Republic, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia for the remaining podium spots.

At the recent South-east Asia Basketball Association Championship, Singapore finished third after a 10-point win over Indonesia.

Neo said: "If we keep up our recent form and the players stick to team basketball, I'm confident that we will return home with a medal."

nsanjay@sph.com.sg

 


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