In their third appearance in the ASEAN Basketball League (ABL) Finals, the Singapore Slingers had their hearts ripped out once again, yet this one seem to sting even worse.
The final dagger struck with 50 seconds remaining in the game came from Wong Wei Long, a Singapore-native who had played eight seasons with the Slingers, after he nailed a booming three to give the BTN CLS Knights Indonesia an 82-79 lead.
“I knew the ball was going in the moment I released it,” gushed Wong, who was very animated after making the go-ahead basket, pumping his fists as he jumped in the air.
“Although I didn’t play that well in Finals series, when my coach called upon me, I’m always ready to hit those crucial shots when they need me.”
The 5-foot-9 point guard returned to the Finals for the first time since making back-to-back appearances with the Slingers between 2015-2017, before winning his first ever league championship.
He had previously taken a year off from his professional career to focus on business ventures, before shocking fans as he officially signed to join the CLS Knights Indonesia for the 2018-19 ABL season.
Wong only scored six points in Game 5, with his other three coming in early in the game, but the gravity of his go-ahead basket cannot be understated as the Knights held on to win.
“It’s amazing, man. It’s an emotional night for me. My family is here. I wanted make that shot, you know. A lot of things flashed back – my mom, my dad, my wife, my brother, and my sister-in-law has always been supporting me. Especially both my parents and my wife coming to and from Singapore to Indonesia, they have always been supporting me from the regular season to the playoffs, to the finals, all seven months. It means a lot to me that I hit the shot.”
It took all 40 minutes for CLS to overcome the Singapore, who led for most of the game and still had a 10-point lead early in the final quarter.
Then came the spirited fightback from the Knights late in the game which several team members credited to the passionate Indonesian fans loudly cheering for them.
“It means a lot to me as a player. When I made that shot, it means a lot to the fans, for us, and for the whole organization, they all work like a team. It’s amazing.”
As hundreds of CLS supporters made their way to Singapore, taking a significant portion of the sold-out, 3150-seater OCBC Arena, Wong continued to express his gratitude to the Knights faithful.
“They are so supportive every game at home (in Surabaya). They sing, they chant, they shout my name whenever I hit the three-point shots,” continued the former two-time local MVP, who screamed in celebration towards the Knights fan section after the final buzzer sounded.
“You guys have been amazing. You’re one of the most interesting and amazing crowds that I have ever met. I won’t forget this unforgettable moment throughout my life. Three consecutive finals apperances, one championship, that means a lot to me.”
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