SINGAPORE (Singapore) – When the COVID-19 pandemic hit in 2020, everyone was affected. The world of basketball was no exception.

“That we were all very much affected by covid is an understatement,” said Delvin Goh, star big man of the Singapore Slingers. At the peak of the pandemic, Goh recalls the majority of the Slingers players not only being unable to go out and shoot hoops, but also not being able to even bounce a ball in their flats. “It was tough on us all as we couldn’t hoop at all,” he said.

Even then, basketball never stopped for Goh and the Slingers. “Many of us turned to more individual stuff, working on the physical side of things off the court.”

“Sometimes, it was just focusing on working on our physical fitness at home or perhaps just some dribbling work under the block.”

On top of the work the players put in on an individual basis during these tough times, the Slingers also made sure that a aspiring young players from the Activesg Basketball Academy who were limited in what they could do during covid stayed connected to the sport.

“We had some zoom sessions with the ActiveSG kids as well to bring them through some drills they could do at home, as they were unable to train outdoors,” said Delvin.

Eventually, as time passed by, they found their way back onto the court. It was a gradual process, but it also meant that there was a lot of hope moving forward that the situation was getting back to “normal”.

“After having the measures easing over time, we slowly got back into training on the court but all we could do at first were individual skills work as we were limited on the numbers allowed at training at any one time,” Goh explained. “Then, after the government’s further easing of restrictions, we were able to get back on court for individual skills training as well as some limited team sessions for a few months with the Slingers. We were also able to get back to training and a few games with the national team program.”

This allowed Delvin and the majority of the Slingers players to be active enough to play in the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games 2021 in Vietnam. Though they were unable to come away with a medal this time, it felt a bit closer to reality that they were going to get back into action soon.

Still, even after being back in action, it still felt as if something was missing. For the Slingers that had played in the ASEAN Basketball League (ABL) for 10 straight seasons from 2009 up until the pandemic paused the league’s progress in 2020, there was something for which the players were still yearning.

“It was still definitely not easy for us as we are usually training and playing professionally with the Slingers in the ABL for 6-7 months,” said Goh, who had played in the ABL since 2011 when he was 16. Before the pandemic hit, Delvin was having his best ABL season yet with 9.2 points and 7.9 rebounds in 31.8 minutes per game.

“For us to not be able to play in the ABL, it was not an easy thing. It almost felt like we have to restart everything from scratch on our fitness & skills. With the ABL, you get to travel regionally, experiencing different countries cultures and food which definitely adds to the fun and at the same time you’re able to get a much higher level of basketball competition that gives you that adrenaline.”

That’s why there might not be a lot of people that are as hyped up as Delvin Goh and the Slingers that the ABL is approaching a return.

“Definitely excited about ABL being back in action,” said Delvin. “This gives us the chance to get back into an international higher standard of basketball and help with the standard of basketball once again in Singapore!”

“We are also excited to play again on home soil for the Slingers fans that have been supporting us for so many years and definitely to travel and play for the fans out there in our neighboring countries!”

“It feels like we wasted a couple years of our career waiting for things to get back to normal but I’m glad all the players got through it and we are able to be back for the next season!”

DELVIN GOH

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DESMOND OH

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KELVIN LIM

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NEO BENG SIANG

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DELVIN GOH

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DELVIN GOH

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DELVIN GOH

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KELVIN LIM

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