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amdgc82
04-24-2008, 07:50 PM
Basketball fever, Malaysia Cup style (http://www.todayonline.com/articles/250052.asp)
New hoops tournament set to kick off with a team from Singapore and three from the region
Low Lin Fhoong
linfhoong@mediacorp.com.sg
Thursday, April 24, 2008
www.todayonline.com

THE days of the Malaysia Cup were filled with memories of 55,000-odd fans and their Kallang Roar, the keen excitement felt at taking on rivals equally pumped up to slay the Lions set hearts racing, and men like Fandi Ahmad, Quah Kim Song and V Sundramoorthy continue to be feted as heroes even though the country's involvement in the competition ended in 1994.

Now, a local basketball enterprise is banking on reviving the Singapore-Malaysia rivalry to draw in the crowds.

Local events company, Finesse Productions, are the brains behind The Cagers Asia Basketball Challenge, a series of tournaments that will see a Singapore selection take on two teams from Malaysia, and one from Indonesia.

One Malaysian outfit will hail from the Malaysian National Basketball League (NBL) and the other will probably be made up of players selected from the country's national teams.

CLS Knights, from the Indonesian Basketball League, will be the other team in the mix.

Said Finesse Productions director Matthias Koh yesterday: "Basketball has always been popular in Singapore, especially with youths, but there's been a vacuum in terms of tournaments.

"Other than helping to develop local talent here, we wanted to do something that people can relate to.

"Our vision is to do something similar to the Malaysia Cup, which is one of the reasons why football is so popular in Singapore.

"As we grow the event, we hope to invite regional teams from Taiwan, Hong Kong, Japan, the Philippines and Korea."

The first tournament series will be held from June 6-8 at the Jurong East Sports Hall, with another scheduled for December.

Teams will play a round robin format and Finesse Productions have yet to determine the prize money on offer. Singaporeans can expect other activities on the sidelines of games like a family basketball challenge, 3-on-3 challenge and hip hop dance contests.

The series will take on a quarterly format next year, with two regional and two local tournaments in the pipeline.

Basketball Association of Singapore general manager Hans Goh welcomed the idea.

"It's an interesting concept and it's something that we've been wanting to do," said Goh.

"It'll create a Malaysia Cup kind of scenario we're supportive of the idea and hope they succeed."

Known as the Cagers, the Singapore team's roster will include players from the national and youth teams, alongside two imports from Taiwan's Super Basketball League 2008 champions, Taiwan Beer.

Today understands the event organisers are in talks with Taiwan Beer's celebrity cager, Johnny Yan, the actor and former member of music group, 183 Club.

Kee Tan, commissioner of Malaysia's NBL, said: "I think this is a very good start for club teams in Singapore I think the fans in Malaysia and Singapore will definitely get behind something like this and we will give it our full support."

The Singapore Slingers, who begin their 2008/2009 campaign in Australia's Hummer Championship National Basketball League in September, welcomed the new tournament.

Said Slingers managing director Bob Turner: "Anything that helps basketball in Singapore is good and we could even get involved in playing against these teams."

Tickets to The Cagers Asia Basketball Challenge are priced at $8 and $12 for a standard one-day and three-day pass, respectively, and $5 and $8 for schoolchildren. Visit www.sistic.com.sg for more details