SINGAPORE: The recent success of the FIBA Intercontinental Cup in Singapore held at the Singapore Sports Hub from Sep 21-24 was not only felt on the court at the Singapore Indoor Stadium but also the FanZone at the OCBC Square as there were various activities and even a mini-basketball competitions for the basketball fans to take part in.

This is Singapore’s first year hosting the FIBA Intercontinental Cup in a three-year agreement announced earlier in the year. It also saw 15,000 fans in attendance over the four-day event. Singapore has been hosting another FIBA competition, the 3×3 Asia Cup, since 2022 and also had its hosting rights to the tournament extended for another three years until 2025.

“They (FIBA) have raised the bar and showed the fans and audience that this is an event that they should come and watch it live. There is always a place for improvements in any events, and for us right now is to work hands in glove together with SportSg and FIBA to see how we then raise it further for next year,” said Yazed Osman, Group Head, Events and Placemaking, Kallang Alive Sport Management.

“At the same time, what we do is when we have world-class events at our facility, we also open up the opportunity for our community. As you can see at the OCBC Square we have the activation and engagement with the community, and clinics and NBA programs ongoing at the OCBC Arena. So we celebrate the sport of basketball during this period.”

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Yazed added that they are committed to opening up more access and opportunities for the community to the Singapore Sports Hub. They have engaged with various stakeholders, including the schools, and this year have hosted 43 school finals, three of which are all the basketball finals, the A, B and C division National School Games.

Photo credit: FIBA (Intercontinental Cup 2023, Singapore Final – Sesi Franca vs Telekom Baskets Bonn)

The FIBA Intercontinental Cup final saw Sesi Franca from Brazil taking on Telekom Baskets Bonn of Germany. Both teams kept the fans captivated and at the edge of their seats as they delivered an intense, high-level performance on the court. Franca took the first quarter 18-13, but their opponents, Boon, came back strong in the second quarter to tie the match 34-all.

While the Brazilian club managed to claw their way back in the third quarter 58-50, Boon was not about to give it up easily. It was a nail-biting end to the game, as no one in the Singapore Indoor Stadium could ever imagine what they witnessed in the fourth quarter.

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Both teams were neck-and-neck with each other, and at one point, both teams were tied 67-67 with the clocks ticking down, but then Franca scored a point through Marcio Santos’ free throw to make it 68-67. Soon after, the Boon had the advantage as Glynn Watson scored two points to make it 69-68 for the German club with 38 seconds left in the match.

Boon tried to run the clock down, but they were unfortunately called out for a shot-clock violation. Franca took full advantage of it as they slammed home the winning points from the restart. With 1.9 seconds on the clock, David Jackson, who was voted the Most Valuable Player of the Tournament, assisted Lucas Diaz, who made no mistake with his attempt on the hoops to seal the win for Franca with a score of 70-69.

“I knew we had like about two seconds to have the last shot. So when they said foul (against the opponent), I didn’t want to have a foul as I knew we would have less shot. They could shoot and touch the rim, and we wouldn’t have so much time,” said Franca coach Helinho Garcia, answering a question from The Independent Singapore during the post-match press conference.

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In the final seconds of the match, it was a nervy moment for coach Garcia as his team was trailing by a point with less than three seconds left. However, he kept faith in his team and did not give up until the final seconds.

“I don’t know why but I have this feeling. As they (Bonn) gave an airball, I went to the players and said we are going to have 1.9, 2.6 seconds, I don’t know how many seconds but we are going to run the play that we already practise, to have two points. They made the right pass, at the right time. Lucas catched the ball. We have a team that thinks together, and we believe in each other. That is an incredible shot that will be in our minds for the rest of our life,” shared coach Gracia, who led his team to the Brazilian Basketball Championship in 2022 and 2023.

China’s Zhejiang Golden Bulls took third place in the 2023 FIBA Intercontinental Cup Singapore, defeating Al Ahly 81-74. Meanwhile, NBA G-League Ignite scored fifth in the classification match, winning 8-60 against Al Manama.