The 2023 ABL Invitational is set to begin in two weeks’ time in Singapore to celebrate the New
Year from 2-8 January 2023. All of the competing teams have been moving forward in
preparation for the games ahead, including the Singapore Slingers and Cooly Bangkok Tigers.
The Slingers took a quick trip up north to Bangkok for a pre-season run. Meanwhile, the Tigers
decided to “work-from-home” with a two-game pre-season series.
These two pre-season plans crossed paths, leading to an exhibition match that served as a
preview for the upcoming matchup between the two teams on 4 January 2023 at 8:00 PM
For both teams, it was the last game of their announced per-season schedule. The Slingers were
coming off back-to-back games playing against the Thailand national team. For the Tigers, it
was their second straight game after playing against Indonesian club Dewa United BC.
In what was a spirited match-up between the two teams of the upcoming 2023 ABL Invitational,
it was the Singapore Slingers that emerged victorious at the final buzzer, 94-65.
Coach Neo Beng Siang had set his expectations for this pre-season trip as a “chance for the
team to come together”. This was extremely crucial for the Slingers as they are integrating
some key pieces into their rotation, especially Kentrell Barkley.
The 1.97 M (6’5”) Barkley has experience playing elsewhere in Asia, but this will be his first time
playing for the Slingers and in the South East Asia region. He was a force in the exhibition
games against the Thailand teams and is expected to do so when the actual games begin.
“This pre-season a great test for the team, just to see where we’re at, what we need to work
on, to see who will step up and help the team.” said Barkley, echoing Slingers’ head coach Neo
Beng Siang’s statement about the pre-season games.
The Slingers are not yet where they expect themselves to be, as there are still some moving
pieces, especially with CJ Gettys unavailable for these exhibition games. Still, this trip to
Bangkok was certainly a step forward in the right direction.
“Our expectations are that when we get back and have a couple of days off, then [Gettys] will
join us and slowly get back into it. Then he’ll be right for the [second of January],” said Michael
Jonhnson, Slingers’ General Manager. “But this was a great 4 days for us.”
“In Singapore, we’re a little bit isolated. The guys have been banging each other for a couple of
weeks, so it was good to come here and both the national team and Bangkok Tigers were
gracious enough to put on the events and they were fantastic hosts.”
“We always love coming to Bangkok. It was good team building [experience]. I’m happy we
came, worthwhile for us.”
In spite of the loss to the Slingers, the Cooly Bangkok Tigers were also optimistic about their
preparations for the games next year.
“Right now, our team is emphasizing the use of Thai players, most of whom were our rising
stars in the TBL,” said Tigers’ coach “Nick” Jakkrapan Chupthaisong.
“We have a lot of these young players on our hands and we used these past games to filter out
who we will use [for the ABL Invitational].”
Some of the players that have played for the Tigers in the past and are currently featured on
the Tigers’ social media accounts includes young prospects like Hiran Boateng among others.
“You can see that our local players already have the strength and fitness. But as for the tactics
of the games, that’s something to adjust in the next few weeks.”
With the pre-season schedules of these teams wrapped up, their main focus now turns to full
preparation for the 2023 ABL Invitational. The first tournament of the series will be held in
Singapore from 2-8 January 2023 and will be the first of four tournaments.
For the Singapore Slingers, their upcoming games will be:
vs. NS Matrix – 2 January 2023 – 8:00 PM GMT +8
vs Cooly Bangkok Tigers – 4 January 2023 – 8:00 PM GMT +8
vs Hong Kong Eastern – 7 January 2023 – 8:00 PM GMT +8
vs Zamboanga Valientes – 8 January 2023 – 6:00 PM GMT +8
For the Cooly Bangkok Tigers, their upcoming games will be:
vs Hong Kong Eastern – 2 January 2023 – 6:00 PM GMT +8
vs Singapore Slingers – 4 January 2023 – 8:00 PM GMT +8
vs Louvre Indonesia – 5 January 2023 – 6:00 PM GMT +8
vs Macau Black Bears – 8 January 2023 – 2:00 PM GMT +8