The Basketball Association of Singapore (BAS) announced the addition of two high level teams in Southeast Asia to the lineup of this year’s Merlion Cup –
Satria Muda Pertamina Jakarta and NLEX-SCTEX from the Indonesian Basketball League (IBL Indonesia) and the Philippines Basketball Association (PBA), respectively, following the formal withdrawal of ASEAN Basketball League team Alab Pilipinas.
In a short text conversation with Alab Pilipinas team manager Charlie Dy earlier this week, he had confirmed the pullout: “We’re not joining Merlion Cup 2017. We didn’t commit because with all the basketball events going on, we lack the time to form a competitive team.”
Indonesia’s Satria Muda Pertamina Jakarta (SMP) are currently the runners-up from the Indonesian Basketball League and also took home awards for MVP (Arki Wisnu), Rookie of the Year (Juan Laurent Kokodiputra), and Coach of the Year award winner (Youbel Sondakh).
Satria Muda Pertamina is also the most decorated club in their league with eight National Basketball League championships under their belt. They also competed and were runners-up of the 2009-2010 ASEAN Basketball League before winning the championship as the Indonesia Warriors the following season.
NLEX-SCTEX constitutes the top players from the Philippine Basketball Association’s NLEX Road Warriors and PBA D-League powerhouse Cignal HD Hawkeyes. The NLEX Road Warriors are a new inclusion in the PBA after being promoted from the D-League a few years ago after they won a record of six championships.
Cignal HD Hawkeyes, on the other hand, led by former Kaohsiung Truth heritage import and current Gilas stalwart Raymar Jose, is currently the top team in the PBA D-League, vying for the championship title in the 2017 PBA D-League Foundations Cup Finals. Former Philippine Basketball Association superstar Jojo Lastimosa will head the NLEX-SCTEX team in the upcoming Merlion Cup tournament.
Also missing from this year’s tournament are the long-time Slingers rival from neighboring Kuala Lumpur, the Westports Malaysia Dragons.
BAS President David Ong mentioned that the Merlion Cup was “hugely successful in 2016, and we’ve received significant interest from teams around the region wanting to take part in this year’s edition. The opportunity to have both Satria Muda Pertamina Jakarta and NLEX-SCTEX was too good to turn down.”
The Satria Muda Pertamina Jakarta and NLEX-SCTEX teams will join the hosts Singapore Slingers (ABL), Adelaide 36ers (NBL Australia), Jeonju KCC Egis (Korean Basketball League), Yulon Luxgen Dinos (SBL Taiwan) and last year’s champions, the Shanghai Sharks (Chinese Basketball Association) in the upcoming tournament.
The Merlion Cup was able to make a successful comeback last year after a two decade hiatus. This year would be the 11th edition, and will again be held at the OCBC Arena from September 20th to the 24th.