2.16m-tall signing Charles adds presence to Slingers
2.16m-tall American joins Singaporean side to replace Canadian Wright
Get ready for some slam dunks, stunning rejects from the new Singapore Slingers world import this Sunday at the OCBC Arena.
While others were partying away this past weekend, all Christien Charles could think about was how he could fit into the Singapore Slingers.
The 36-year-old American was signed last Friday as a replacement for Canadian Ryan Wright, with Slingers coach Neo Beng Siang hoping a more physical presence at both ends of the court will improve the struggling Singapore franchise.
The 2.16m-tall Charles won the championship with Hi-Tech Bangkok City in 2014 and was named ABL World Import MVP twice (2013 and 2014) and ABL Defensive Player of the Year (2013 and 2016).
A back injury limited him to just four games with the Saigon Heat last season, and when he recovered, he found himself sidelined by new Heat coach Kyle Julius' system.
Yesterday was Charles' third workout session at the OCBC Arena - the Slingers trained almost right through the New Year celebrations - and he was impressed by the work ethic.
"Some teams give their players both days off but the fact that we are here shows the kind of dedication this organisation has," said Charles, who has averaged 18.6 points and 3.6 blocks during his ABL career.
"The Slingers management, coaches and players are always held in high regard. They have come close to winning the championship, and I hope to bring them across the line this time... that's what they brought me in for.
"I want to be the best team-mate, contribute at both ends and provide an inside presence with my size and experience."
He shares with former Slinger Justin Howard the ABL record of fastest player (51 games) to reach 1,000 points and is also the ABL all-time leader in blocks (259).
The 2.06m Wright joined the Slingers at the start of this campaign as Howard's replacement.
Wright averaged 20.1 points and 13.4 rebounds but struggled with his free-throws (32.4 per cent).
Charles has a 46.4 per cent field-goal and 59.8 per cent free-throw percentage in the ABL.
The Slingers have reached consecutive ABL Finals, losing both, on the back of a stifling defence but have been guilty of allowing easy drives to the basket and open three-point shots this term.
They have lost four times after seven games and are fourth in the nine-team league.
Neo said: "We are sad to let Ryan go because he did well but we were really under-sized as we have had to miss Delvin (Goh) at times due to national service commitments.
"We want another shot at the title, so we have made the decision now to replace Ryan with Christien to add height and help us out in terms of both defensive and offensive rebounds.
"We still believe we can achieve our target of finishing in the top two, and we will want to start the year well with a win against Alab Pilipinas, even though we have not had a game for almost three weeks and they would have a home game on Wednesday to shake off the rust."
The Slingers host seventh-placed Alab (1-3) on Sunday and Charles is raring to make his debut. He said: "I'm excited because I have had so many tough battles against this very organised and strong team so it feels good to be on this side and I'm really looking forward to play my first game for the Slingers."