SINGAPORE, 22 NOVEMBER 2008 — Matching the high octane, testosterone-filled battle between the male teams, the women’s competition proved to be equally fierce, if not more so.
The winners were not a bunch of rip-roaring, slender girls in prime physical condition, but Yan Xinhui, Lin Xiufang, and Dawn Lee, all in their thirties.
They were basketball teammates who used to play for their club when they were still students. “It was so long ago, way back in the 90s!” joked Dawn.
Held on the fourth day of the Asia Conference, the Slam Dunk! Competition finals saw 34 teams — whittled down from over 200 in the preliminaries — competing for the male and female 3-on-3 crown.
The male challenge was won by a group of twenty-somethings: Justin Ngor, Allan Tay, and Tan Wu. A side event was the 3-Point Shootout which saw 15-year-old student Paul Ang emerge champion. He won a S$150 Takashimaya voucher. The 3-on-3 champions and first runners-up were awarded S$300 and S$100 Takashimaya vouchers respectively.
While the women finalists were congenial before the match, the intensity went up ten notches once the timer ran.
Scowls filled the players’ faces as they wrestled for the ball, and teammates barked at one another to ensure that their opponents were tightly marked. Players at times lunged at the floor for the loose ball but it was Xiufang’s sharpshooting that ultimately won her team the competition by a score of 9-6.
When asked about the intensity of the matchup, Xinhui said casually, “We really didn’t come expecting to win; it was just for fun and more like a reunion for us.”
It was a family affair for Dawn, who had her two young daughters in tow. Her husband was also one of the referees.
For the male competition however, the final match was more one-sided as Justin’s team thrashed their opponents 16-7 in the finals. Height was an obvious advantage for them, and their tallest member Wu measured about 195cm.
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Imposing in size, he was seen dunking the ball with ease during practice. His other teammates measured up during the actual match; together, the three formed a formidable Great Wall that made scoring difficult for the other teams.
Testy at times, the final matchup saw referee Joseph Ang stepping in to take firm control of the situation.
The semi-final, on the other hand, had a much closer score line of 15-13, but the match was equally intense.
32-year-old Jason Matias, whose team lost to Justin’s, felt the champions did not really burn all the fuel in their tank. He also found the intensity pretty normal.
“In Philippines, we play even harder than what you see here,” said the Singaporean PR.
The engineer came with his wife and children as well. Ice, 4, and Yana, 6, pranced around and supported their dad at the sidelines with pom poms made up of newspapers.
Though the team — made up of City Harvest members — did not win, Jason said with a shrug: “We’re really here just for fun.”