So the E Train and I rolled into the Singapore Indoor Stadium yesterday to check out a professional basketball game. The Singapore Slingers took on the defending ABL champs, the Philippine Patriots. After the Slingers ran up a large first half lead, the Patriots morphed into the 2010 Utah Jazz and ended up winning the game in double OT. The crowd was much larger than I expected–probably around 1,500. It reminded me of when the Yanks play the Rays at the Trop–about 80% of the crowd was there to cheer for the visiting team. I counted four Kobe jerseys, one Jordan and one Avenido (the Slingers’s version of AI, a combo guard who never met a shot he didn’t like). This is only the second year of play in the ASEAN Basketball League. The roster rules are interesting. For instance, no team can have more than two players from non-ASEAN nations. Needless to say, all such foreign players are from the States and they dominate the stats (four of the top five scoring spots and the top five rebounding spots are held by Americans (for all of you Gopher fans, you can call off the search party as we have located Antoine Broxsie–he plays for the Satria Muda BritAma (the team based in Jakarta) and is third in boards with 13 per game)).
The international game is bit different, with its wider lane, four ten minute quarters, superb transition defense and a lot of zone D.
That said, there were quite a few similarities to an NBA game, namely: (1) the ridiculously inflated concession prices ($1.50 for a small lollipop!!; that makes the $6.50 garlic fries at Yankee Stadium look like a Black Friday door buster at Wal-Mart. It is as if you are entering 1946 Hungary every time you step into a stadium…); (2) American players questioning obvious calls (while there were no ‘Sheed-inspired meltdowns, there was an embarrassing epileptic protest on the floor that looked like someone was trying to do the worm); (3) a constant supply of House of Pain and Guns ‘N Roses (the beginning of Sweet Child O’ Mine never gets old); and (4) people going absolutely nuts when cheerleaders run on the court to shoot $5 t-shirts into the crowd from a water balloon sling.
The level of play was similar to that of a high level high school game–meaning both teams could probably beat the Timberwolves (especially if Rambis were to inexplicably leave Love Daddy on the bench for half the game) and would certainly take down the Knicks.