WONG Wei Long remembers the time Singapore would routinely lose to the Philippines by 60 points in international competition.
But with the Asean Basketball League (ABL) giving exposure to players like him, the longtime Singapore national team member hopes that his country can narrow the gap soon and gain a share of basketball glory in the region.
Wong said he cherishes playing for the Singapore Slingers in the ABL, adding that he has seen improvements in their game since the regional professional basketball league was set up in 2009.
The 27-year-old Wong has also witnessed Singapore’s vast improvement in basketball in his decade-long stint with the national team. In fact, Singapore has won bronze medals in the last two editions of the Southeast Asian Games, and even gained a spot in the Fiba-Asia Championships last year.
“I still remember 10 years ago, we were down by 60 points every year for four consecutive years. When we played for the Slingers, we started to improve. The gap is closing,” said Wong, who also won the ABL MVP for locals this season.
Wong said the bronze medal finishes could be attributed to their participation in the ABL. Currently, the Slingers are playing the Westports Malaysia Dragons for the 2015-2016 ABL crown with the rubber match set on Saturday in Kuala Lumpur.
“It’s a big help for us. It’s a great platform for us to perform because the Slingers are the only pro club in Singapore. To get a chance to play with great American and Asean players, it’s great. It a great opportunity to prepare us to compete in the SEA Games,” Wong said.
However, Wong remains realistic that his country's chances of topping Southeast Asian basketball in the near future is still slim, even with the Philippines only sending an all-amateur squad to the regional conclave.
Wong is hoping that with the resurgence of basketball in Singapore, there will come a time that a professional league in his country will be formed as well, seeing how the PBA has greatly helped develop Philippine basketball.
“They have a great platform in the PBA. Hopefully, one day, Singapore will also get that professional league,” said Wong.