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.
“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.”
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 Indonesian media mogul Erick Thohir, who is now a politician.
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.