SINGAPORE - The Singapore Slingers announced that along with two other long-time vets Desmond Oh and Delvin Goh, they will be re-signing Ng Han Bin for his 8th season in the ASEAN Basketball League as well.
Though being able to play professional basketball in eight seasons is already going to be a remarkable feat by itself, the fact that Han Bin even got through his first season and each following season has been a highly impressive feat by itself. The Singaporean sharpshooter lost one kidney since he was three-years-old, but that has never stopped him from pursuing to excel in the sport he loves.
“Because of my condition, after training or matches, I can’t take protein powder and recovery supplements. So I can only spend more time in the gym to bulk up. I need to stay hydrated, but I also have to be careful not to over-hydrate.” Han Bin told The New Paper back in 2015.
Despite the physical hurdles and having to go against medical advice, Han Bin continued to go after his basketball dreams. His pursuit led him to multiple stints with the Singapore National Team as well as signing on to play with the Singapore Slingers in the ASEAN Basketball League in 2010-2011.
“My basketball journey with the Singapore Slingers started seven years ago. The head coach at that time caught an inter-varsity game which I was playing in.” Han Bin told Strait Times in 2017.
Eight years later, Han Bin is still going strong in his professional basketball career after re-signing with the Slingers for an 8th straight season. The 29-year-old has emerged as a sharpshooting wing over the past couple of seasons with averages of 8.3 points and 33.3% shooting last year. Han Bin’s looks to bring that same marksmanship and more to the Slingers this season to give his team any advantage they can get, an important part of playing in the ABL.
“As [Xavier Alexander] always says, ‘Let it fly’, which simply means taking the shots with confidence,” Han Bin explains. “I am looking forward to playing with more confidence and bring more energy on both ends of the floor after my long-awaited knee operation this offseason.”
“In this league, there is no absolute advantage of any team over the other,” says Han Bin of what he’s learned playing in this league for such a long time. “In fact, any team can win on any given night hence the importance to be professional in the daily habits that could give a slight edge when the game is on.”
Slingers’ General Manager Michael Johnson enjoys Han Bin’s contributions on the court, but values what the forward brings to the team off the court even more.
“I think with Han Bin the word ‘character’ is the right word to describe him as he has plenty of that. He has been through a lot including playing the sport with only one kidney, several injuries with knees, ankles, etc. But he has shown great character throughout and has never given up. [Han Bin] has been an important part of the Slingers program for many years now. He is not the fastest player or the most athletic but he gives everything he has during training and games.”
As important as his skill set has been for enduring his long career, it’s also been his strong mindset and approach to life that has kept him going.
“Rather than focusing on the negativities that [are] bound to happen in life, I chose to focus on the blessing of being able to step onto the court each time and never take that for granted,” Han Bin says. “I found my purpose through giving back to the community and the support from my close ones became my drive during the tough times.”
Now heading into his 30s with nearly a decade of professional basketball experience and two decades of playing the game, Han Bin is getting more and more active than ever to give an opportunity to others at a young age. Other than being a long range bomber for the Slingers, Han Bin also helps head coach Neo Beng Siang out in the Jr. NBA programme and the ActiveSG Basketball Academy, teaching the game of basketball to kids form 5-14 years old.
“Han Bin is also a guy that embraces the opportunity he has been given and is passionate about giving back to the community,” Johnson says. “He has been invaluable to the club over the past 2 years with his work off the court through the Slingers schools and community basketball clinic program and also through his work with our partners, Activesg Basketball Academy and the Jr NBA. He loves what he does and it shows through his commitment and passion for the sport.”
At the Slingers’ home games at OCBC Arena, there will regularly be a group of young children that come to the games not only to root for the home team, but to root for “Coach Han Bin” as he takes the court. You can see how they look up to him as they approach him for post game photos and signatures. You can feel the impact that Han Bin has on these kids, an impact the Han Bin himself values highly and uses to drive himself to be even better.
“These kids actually come to my games,” he shared with ActiveSG last year. “And because of them, it makes me want to push even further in the sport, and the feeling of wanting to help out my teammates, and impacting the next generation – they are the key [reasons] why I’m still playing the game professionally.”