Singapore Slingers could ring in the changes next season
While Neo Beng Siang will carry on as Singapore Slingers coach, and their two full-time local players Desmond Oh and Ng Hanbin look to be staying, the rest of the team's roster is up in the air for next season.
After their season came to an end with a heartbreaking Asean Basketball League Finals defeat in Kuala Lumpur yesterday, Slingers co-owner Michael Johnson told The New Paper that while they would like to retain the squad, external factors may mean the issue is out of their hands.
"Our three imports have been fantastic throughout the season," said Johnson, who is also the Slingers' general manager and assistant coach.
"Justin (Howard) had just one poor outing in Game Three of the finals, Xavier (Alexander) didn't score enough today but he was great for us throughout, and Kris (Rosales) just kept getting better and better.
"But the next Asean Basketball League season doesn't start till October and it all depends on what offers they get.
"We won't stand in their way if they get great offers from other leagues such as the Philippine Basketball Association."
Justin Howard and Xavier Alexander are Americans while Kris Rosales is from the Philippines.
As for the local cagers, Johnson said: "Delvin (Goh) is enlisting for National Service in August along with a couple more of our local players, so we have to see what happens.
"This is not new to us, and while we did well to negotiate the challenges this season, it would be nice to have some stability and continuity.
"For now, we just want our kids to take the time off they need to recover from fatigue and injuries because some of our local players have been going at it since early last year (due to last year's SEA Games)."
TNP understands that with the Basketball Association of Singapore in the midst of hiring a new national coach, the Slingers programme could be run separately from the national team.
That means that the national team could take away key local players from the Slingers.
While Johnson declined comment on this possible development, he credited the team for the recent upturn in Singapore basketball's fortunes.
Most, if not all, of the current national players are on the Slingers' roster and have benefited from regular training and competition in the ABL.
"This has been a formula that has reaped rewards for more than six years and we have seen the national team improve and win two SEA Games bronze medals in 2013 and 2015 - our first since 1979," said Johnson.
"For the good of the national team, I would like to see it continue