National cager Delvin Goh joins Brunei club
National cager to play in East Malaysia league after missing out on Thailand event
When one door closes, another opens.
National cager Delvin Goh felt just that, after signing for Brunei's Beruang Blazers this month after missing an opportunity to join Thailand Basketball League's Dunkin Raptors four months ago.
It is believed that the 21-year-old is the first Singaporean basketballer to join a foreign team, at least in recent years, and he will play in the four-team Yuwang East Malaysia Basketball League (EBL) which tips off on Friday and ends on Sept 25.
In a phone interview from Brunei, former Singapore Slingers player Goh said: "I really wanted to join the Raptors back in April, but I was due to enlist for National Service and I didn't know then when my enlistment date would be.
"So, understandably, the team decided to sign another import.
"I'm honoured and excited that another foreign team in the form of Beruang Blazers approached me. I now know that my enlistment date is Oct 7, which allows me to play in the EBL.
"It is a big opportunity not just for myself to learn and perform, but also good for Singapore basketball as there is recognition that Singaporean cagers can play too.
"I hope that this opens doors for the next generation of Singaporean basketballers to venture overseas."
The four teams - reigning champions Kuching Lord Tiger, Labuan Wasps, Kota Kinabalu Eagles and Beruang Blazers - will play each other at the four home grounds each week, before the play-offs to decide the eventual winners.
Each team can sign three imports, and they have predictably relied almost entirely on regional powerhouses Philippines, which makes Goh the only non-Filipino import in the league.
But Goh's stellar performance in the Seaba Stankovic Cup in May, when he led Singapore to a third-placed finish with a game-high 20 points, 16 rebounds and five assists in the play-off against Malaysia, must have convinced Blazers coach Ryan Yusof that he made the right decision.
"I have been here for five days and, while everyone is very friendly, it still feels weird to be an import," said Goh.
"And there's definitely pressure being the only non-Filipino import and the first Singaporean basketballer to play overseas in recent years.
"There's not much room for mistakes for imports and I want to perform up to my expectations.
"It is all about hard work in defence, where I want to contribute rebounds and blocks.
"In offence, I also want to do more and score points in the paint against the smaller guys. Overall, we have quite a good team, so I'm definitely aiming to win every game and claim the championship."
However, basketball fans will most likely not be able to watch Goh during the Merlion Cup as the competition is held at the OCBC Arena from Sept 21 to 25, which clashes with the EBL play-offs.
And his impending enlistment means he could also miss at least the start of the new Asean Basketball League season at the end of the year.
"The Merlion Cup is on again after a 20-year absence, so I'm quite sad not to be able to be part of it," said the 2.02-metre centre.
"And I'm not too sure about the Slingers and ABL due to my NS commitments.
"But there are still many reasons to be excited about playing for the Blazers and I'm definitely looking forward to a good season ahead."