One of the three new teams in the ASEAN Basketball League will host the opening game of its 8th season as the Nanhai Kung Fu take on one of the founding members of the league in the Singapore Slingers.
Little is known about the squad from Nanhai as they have kept their cards close to their chest leading to the start of the maiden season but that does not mean that this game isn’t without interesting stories
After helping the Slingers reach the finals in the past two seasons, Justin Howard was not renewed by Singapore and he has since been scooped up by Nanhai. It will be interesting how the veteran big man interacts with his former teammates as he’ll surely have a point to prove against them.
For the past two years, Howard was the focal point of Singapore’s attack with the big man more often than not playing all 40 minutes. Now he’ll be up against his former team in the opener. The big question for Howard is how well he was developed chemistry with his new teammates but he will be valuable in this game because he can help out the rest of Nanhai with the scouting of his former teammates.
Howard is the reigning Defensive Player of the Year largely because of his ability to gobble up rebounds and this will remain to be his best asset as he plays for the ABL’s first Chinese team.
Nanhai will be also banking on their other World import in the sweet-shooting Anthony Tucker and their Heritage import in Filipino-American Caelan Tiongson. Tucker is a deadly threat from the outside as is the perfect compliment to Howard while Tiongson provides hustle and energy and his true value goes beyond what’s seen in the stat sheet.
Testing the new ABL squad will be the two-time finalist in Singapore, a team that will be turning a new page without Howard and also without former ABL MVP Wong Wei Long. However, they welcome Wu Qingde back into their lineup after sitting out last season due to a knee injury. The Slingers will also be banking on the continued development of Russel Low and Delvin Goh, the young big men of Slingers who will be the pillars of Singaporean basketball.
There will be a lot of pressure on Xavier Alexander not only to produce the numbers but also to lead Singapore but their other World import Ryan Wright is raring to prove that he can fill the void left by Howard’s departure.
The game will be played on November 17 at 7:30 PM (GMT +8) in Nanhai Gymnasium, Nanhai.