SINGAPORE: The Singapore Slingers on Monday (Nov 20) said that they will "stop playing" as the ASEAN Basketball League (ABL) in which they compete is facing an uncertain future.
The resumption of the league in the near term was unlikely as it?no longer had the support of?the International Basketball Federation (FIBA),?Singapore's only professional basketball team said in a statement on their website.
"It is with a heavy heart and great disappointment that the Singapore Slingers ownership announce that the ABL is unlikely to play for the foreseeable future," the statement read.
The ABL had been informed by FIBA that it "does not fit into (its) future plans for basketball in the region", the Slingers said.
"FIBA will be selective of which leagues it would support and allow moving forward. FIBA's clear instructions to the regional basketball federations essentially denied the ABL a viable future," the team continued.
"The ABL has spent the past two years trying to find a compromise with FIBA without success."
The Slingers added that "millions of dollars" had been spent to build the league's brand and lift the standard of regional basketball over 11 seasons.
A check by CNA on Monday evening showed that the ABL had not made a formal announcement regarding its status.
The league's most recent season was played in early 2023 after a three-year hiatus brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Going forward, the Slingers said that they will explore how they can continue to be a "development platform" for Singapore's top basketball players while working with Sport Singapore (SportSG).
"The Slingers have been a feature in the local basketball scene through their competition in the ABL, community outreach programmes as well as its support of the ActiveSG Basketball Academy," they said.
"We believe that the goodwill continues to reside in the fans, players past and present as well as the younger generations of Singaporeans who have been exposed to basketball via the Slingers.
"The Singapore Slingers ownership and management would like to thank all our season ticket members and fans for their support over the past 17 years."
"THEY HAVE OPENED MANY DOORS"
In a statement on Monday night, a spokesperson for SportSG said: "We understand that the ASEAN Basketball League is unlikely to play for the foreseeable future and that it is a business decision by the organisers.
"Sport Singapore is working with the Basketball Association of Singapore (BAS) to ensure that our local national basketballers who play for the Singapore Slingers will continue to have training and competition opportunities.
"Sport Singapore has also reached out to the club to render assistance to the affected players."
The spokesperson added that the ActiveSG Basketball Academy (ABA) will also support players who wish to pursue coaching under the National Registry of Coaches scheme.
"ABA will continue to involve our national players in its programmes and leverage their experience to mentor our junior programme participants," the spokesperson said.
In response to queries from CNA earlier on Monday, BAS said it was aware of the uncertainties that the Slingers were facing and that the team had been working with FIBA "to find a better solution to work things out".
"However, we only (got) the confirmation of the news through the announcement on (the) Slingers website," said BAS.
The association said that while the current situation will have an impact on its players, it is "working closely with SportSG and FIBA to establish some plans" to ensure that national team players can "continue playing at a high level".
"Our primary objective (remains) unchanged. That is to ensure that our athletes and aspiring athletes continue to have the best opportunities to succeed and compete at the highest level possible," said BAS.
BAS added that the ABL and the Slingers had "undeniably played crucial roles?in the development of Singapore men's basketball?over the years".?
"They have opened many doors for young aspiring players, professionalising the sport, providing them with a high-level platform to compete and raising the standard of the game domestically," the association said.
Formed in 2006, the Slingers initially competed in Australia's National Basketball League. They played in the league for two seasons before withdrawing in 2008.
The Slingers then joined the ABL for its inaugural season in 2009. The league was co-founded by?AirAsia's Tony Fernandes and media mogul Erick Thohir, who is currently Indonesia's minister for state-owned enterprises.
In its last season to date, the ABL was played in an invitational format with the Slingers joined by?seven other teams: Bangkok Tigers, Hong Kong Eastern, Louvre Surabaya, Macau Black Bears, NS Matrix Malaysia, Saigon Heat and Zamboanga Valientes.
The Slingers finished fourth in the table to secure a playoff spot, but they were beaten in the semi-finals by the Saigon Heat. The Heat went on to lose to Hong Kong Eastern in the final series.
CNA has contacted the Slingers, FIBA and the ABL for more information.