Folkoff won't quit Slingers after all
Small forward returns to ABL outfit after initially quitting to focus on his business
He did not sign up with the Singapore Slingers for the upcoming Asean Basketball League (ABL) season as he had wanted to focus on his business.
Now, Mitchell Folkoff has made a U-turn on the decision because of "unfinished business" on the court.
The 28-year-old told The New Paper: "At first I thought of focusing only on my gym (Cut Gym). But we are now taking a separate route in terms of business idea, as we are going into more sports-specific strength and conditioning for basketball youths rather than personal training and aesthetics.
"This will allow me more time to play basketball. A big part of returning to the Slingers again is the unfinished business.
"We lost 3-1 to Hong Kong Eastern Long Lions in last season's Finals but we were so close in our last two games, losing by four and then two points.
"I got injured and tore my medial collateral ligament in Game Two away and didn't even play the Finals in front of our home crowd. We can get back and win the whole thing."
Folkoff's change of heart cushions the blow of losing two-time ABL Local MVP Wong Wei Long to business commitments.
The team are also grappling with knee injuries to skipper Desmond Oh and forwards Wu Qingde, Kelvin Lim and Ng Han Bin, while up-and-coming duo Delvin Goh and Leon Kwek are full-time national servicemen.
Big American centre Justin Howard, the Defensive Player of the Year, has also left for Nanhai Kung Fu Basketball Club.
A big part of returning to the Slingers again is the unfinished business. Singapore Slingers forward Mitchell Folkoff, referring to last season’s narrow losses in the ABL Finals to Hong Kong Eastern Long Lions
Ahead of the Nov 17 tip-off away at Nanhai, Slingers coach Neo Beng Siang said: "We were disappointed when Mitch said he was not joining us.
"But he has been practising two to three times a week with us for the past two weeks and he has decided to give it a go, which is a boost to our defence.
"We expected Mitch to struggle big time when he returned to the team last season after a three-year absence and he nearly gave up.
"But he managed to adapt to our system and he was a really good asset until he was unfortunately injured in the Finals, and we missed him.
"As a small forward, he is strong and aggressive, which is what we need to lock down the better players in the opposing teams."
Folkoff will head into the new season in a confident mood.
On Sunday, he captained Singapore Xin Hua Sports Club to the National Basketball League Division I championship with a 76-61 over Safsa, and was voted the MVP of the final following his 13-point, 12-rebound display.
But Folkoff, who finished last term's regular season with an average of 3.8 points, 2.3 rebounds and 1.7 assists, knows that the Slingers face a tough task in capturing the elusive ABL title, especially with a record-high nine teams taking part this time.
He said: "We are definitely aiming for the championship, but it has to be one step at a time - regular season, play-offs, semi-finals, finals.
"I felt I was pretty consistent defensively, but I can be a smarter defender and also contribute more in offence.
"Now, I feel in game condition after recovering in time for the SEA Games and the National Basketball League.
"After getting used to the pace, I have calmed down and can see the game better.
"Everyone needs to step up and we need to focus on ourselves. The training and intensity have been really good. We are working hard and we hope this translates into results."