Prior to the start of the 2019 ABL Season, there was a rule change that enabled Wong Wei Long to once again play in the league after a one-year absence. With his mother being born in Indonesia, Wei Long was considered as a local for the BTN CLS Knights.
It was a huge move from the young franchise who struggled in their maiden season last year. With the departure of star guard and Indonesia legend Mario Wuysang, Wei long gave them a steady hand in the position while also allowing them to get three imports to shore up their front-court.
Even before the competitions started, the first trip of the Knights to Singapore was already marked as a red-letter day in the league as it would be the first time that Wei Long will play there not as a friend but as a foe.
“I didn’t want to leave the team but it was always my dream to go overseas to play,” Wei Long said before the game. “I do want to want to learn how to be alone and independent. It has been a good experience in Surabaya. I’m still getting used to the food and new environment even after being there for three months.
It’s been a challenge for me but I appreciate this opportunity given to me by CLS and I’m just trying my best to enjoy every moment.”
Wei Long parted ways with the Slingers to focus on the Scholar Basketball Academy but it did not take long before he started to miss the thrill of competitive basketball as he played as an import in Thailand before landing with the Knights.
“It’s an amazing feeling to be back here because I’ve played here for seven years. Last year, I was not able to play. I just to enjoy the atmosphere today,” added Wei Long. “It feels great to be back in Singapore. Even in my Instagram stories, I said ‘I’m back.’ It feels like I’m really home.”
The good feeling did not last long for the returning Wei Long and the rest of the Knights as the Slingers prepared an outstanding defensive game plan against them. Singapore pressured ball handlers, swooped in on passing lanes, and funneled slashers to John Fields who was rock solid in the shaded area with seven blocks in the game.
Singapore ended up taking the win 95-76 to break the Knights’ seven-game winning streak. It was a defensive masterpiece for the Slingers as they limited their visitors to less than 25 points per quarter even if they were averaging 98.8 points per game during their streak.
The Slingers might not admit it but stopping Wei Long on his return was a huge part of their game plan.
The wrath of Singapore’s defense was at its meanest against former skipper who was averaging 16.8 points and 3.5 triples in their seven-game winning streak but he was held down to just four points, all on free throws, by his former teammates.
“It’s always a good feeling to play against an old teammate. We played together for almost 10 years. He knows my moves and I know his moves because we guarded each other every time in practice,” said Desmond Oh who had three steals in the game.
“It’s nothing personal but my job today is to stop him because he has been hot in their past few games.”
“I’ve been teammates with him for almost a decade. From the Slingers to the national team, we’re very close. He’s like a brother, like family to me,” said Delvin Goh.
“Playing against him at our home court, it felt weird. When they introduced him ‘From the CLS Knights, number 5, Wong Wei Long,’ it didn’t sound real to me. But it is what it is. I’m very happy to have played with him and now against him.”
The Slingers gave a rude welcome upon his return to the OCBC Arena but he’ll have two more opportunities to return the favor in the rest of the elimination round.
For Wei Long, though, more than the game, it was just good to see old friends again.
“I missed them a lot. I miss being with them and training and going out for supper,” he said. “We had a lot of good times together. Every time I’m here, I still do my best to meet up with them and catch up and with the SEA Games coming up, we might just get the chance to play together again. You never know what can happen.”