Fong Shing Yee, Lee Ki Proud of Hong Kong Basketball

Longtime friends and teammates Fong Shing Yee and Lee Ki didn’t really know what to expect when their team, the Hong Kong Eastern Long Lions, decided to enter the ASEAN Basketball League (ABL).

They knew they were fine athletes who played exceptionally well in local competition. But even then, they wanted to know how they would fare against other competitors from across Asia. They’ve had a few experiences playing internationally, but they’ve never had a chance to be in five-month long tournament.

“We don’t have a lot of competition in Hong Kong actually,” team captain Fong Shing Yee who’s also called Ga said. “Our local league isn’t whole year, only 16 or 17 games.”

They wanted to test their mettle. They wanted competition. Also, they wanted to place Hong Kong on the map of Asia basketball.

“You know, in our local league, [we have] eight teams, only two to three months,” Lee Ki shared. “And we play them every year. We know each other.”

Fast-forward to the 2016-2017 ABL season, they would have their chance to prove to Asia, and essentially to the entire world, that Hong Kong basketball is here to say.

The Long Lions were recently crowned kings of the ABL after defeating the Singapore Slingers, closing out the series in four games last Sunday. By the end of their debut season, the Long Lions have the hardware to prove just how strong they were.

Hong Kong’s season awards – World MVP and Finals MVP for Marcus Elliott, Heritage MVP Tyler Lamb, and Coach of the Year Edu Torres – are indicative just daunting and talented their lineup was. Add in the inspired play of Josh Boone fighting through injury, the Long Lions were simply unstoppable.

Much of the headlines from the Long Lions’ maiden ABL season surrounded on their imports. Featuring two World imports and two Heritage imports, most fans thought that the lone reason for their success was the reinforcements, and not the local talent.

However, the two local stars Ga and Lee Ki were quick to point out that the imports were not a hindrance to their development as players, but in reality were means to improve their all-around game.

“We have good teammates who share the ball. We all have shared experiences,” Ga opened up about his team. “That’s why the local players stepped up. That’s why we don’t rely on our imports.”

“The team is positive and [everyone] gives encouragement in particular, Marcus (Elliott), Tyler (Lamb), Steven (Guinchard), and Josh (Boone) always encourage our local players in practice that’s why we can keep up in the game,” he added.

In Game 4 last Sunday, Ga ended up being named as the Best Player of the Game as he tallied 9 points, 11 rebounds, 3 assists, and 2 steals. Even though Elliott eventually earned Finals MVP of the series, Ga’s play was critical in the double overtime classic. The team captain played 40 minutes and stayed on the floor despite having four personal fouls late in the game.

Lee Ki meanwhile put up 8 points, including two three-pointers in the championship-clinching game. Lee echoed Ga’s sentiments that without their contribution plus support from the bench, in particular Chan Siu Wing, Hong Kong wouldn’t be named champions.

And everything goes back to their journey playing in the ABL.

“I think the most important is the game experience,” Lee Ki reflected on how much they improved by joining the league. “Now, there are new players, new countries, the home and away games – it’s a different experience for us.”

“Now we’re mixed with imports that can improve our game and experience more,” added Ga.

With one full ABL season under their belt, the two teammates can look back on their incredible journey and how much a couple of months changed them. Now they’re champions, and more importantly, their country is recognized. 

“I think it’s important to let everyone know Hong Kong basketball has improved,” Lee Ki concluded.