The businessman baller
Slingers forward Folkoff juggles basketball and his gym venture
Singapore Slingers forward Mitchell Folkoff had his career path all planned out when he was just 16.
He knew back then that his life was always going to revolve around his two passions - basketball and strength and fitness conditioning.
So, after completing his national service in 2012, the Chinese-American opted out of enrolling for university and jumped straight into the Asean Basketball League (ABL) with the Slingers.
Said the former Temasek Polytechnic student: "Since I was 16, I've been freelancing in basketball and gym conditioning, and learning about workout programming."
After his debut season, he took a three-year break from basketball to start Cut Gym Singapore, which provides personal training services.
Said the 28-year-old: "After my first ABL season, the opportunity to start the business presented itself.
"I took it because there are certain opportunities that, if you hesitate, will be gone just like that."
After the business stabilised, Folkoff, unable to shake off his desire to play, decided to rejoin the Slingers late last year.
But the entrepreneur in him wasn't completely done yet.
Up sprung his newest brainchild - Shot Zone, a basketball training facility, last June.
He said: "I didn't want to be coaching (Cut Gym) clients for the rest of my life.
"We knew the gym was sustainable and we didn't have to be there physically anymore.
PASSIVE REVENUE STREAM
"We needed something with a passive revenue stream.
"We saw a great opportunity to develop basketball in Singapore and help players develop fundamental individual skills."
While Folkoff certainly has plenty on his plate, he made it clear that he could balance business and basketball.
“I think we can match up to the competition and there’s no reason why we can’t win more than a bronze.
Singapore Slingers forward Mitchell Folkoff on targeting silver at the South-east Asia (SEA) Games
However, at first, it seemed like he had bitten off more than he could chew.
In his first month back with the Slingers, he sometimes had to take painkillers to soothe his body aches and even just to help him sleep.
"I was dying lah," he said sheepishly, as he wrapped two ice-packs around his knees after a training session on Tuesday.
"My body couldn't handle it. The intensity (in training) is something you can't get from lifting weights everyday."
Slingers coach Neo Beng Siang could still recall the difficulties Folkoff had in readjusting.
He said: "He really struggled, but right from the start he told us he wanted to commit."
Since re-entering the fray, Folkoff has proven his worth.
His averages in the regular season (3.8 points, 2.3 rebounds, 1.7 assists) may not command much attention, but it is the defensive shifts he has put in that have played a significant part in helping the Slingers reach the ABL Finals.
Their first match in the best-of-five series against the Hong Kong Eastern Long Lions takes place on Saturday.
Said Neo: "He pulled through, and he's made a huge difference for us, especially at the defensive end."
Folkoff now has the ABL title on his mind.
But he is already planning beyond that.
He has the South-east Asia (SEA) Games silver medal in his sights, after missing out on Singapore's bronze-medal wins in the last two editions.
This year's Games takes place in Kuala Lumpur in August.
He said: "We have a good mix of veterans like (Wong) Wei Long and I, and youths like Leon (Kwek) and Delvin (Goh).
"We have good size, good speed, and experience.
"I think we can match up to the competition and there's no reason why we can't win more than a bronze."