Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Singapore Slingers 39 at Indonesia Warriors 64 (ASEAN Basketball League) - May 10, 2013


When the ASEAN Basketball League schedule was released back in January, I thought it would be cool to see a game on the road. There are six teams in the league, all based in large cities throughout the region, with the Singapore Slingers my "home" team. Among the other five cities, I've been to Bangkok, Ho Chi Minh, Manila, and Kuala Lumpur, which made Jakarta the logical choice for a roadtrip as it was the only place I had yet to visit. So before the season even started, I booked a weekend trip in May, when the Slingers would be taking on the Indonesia Warriors in the penultimate game of the season. Big mistake.



When the Slingers opened the season here a week later, I went to see them play and was disappointed at the low-quality of basketball. I wasn't expecting NBA-caliber play, but what I saw was just ugly. I shelved any plans about returning to the Singapore Indoor Stadium to see the Slingers, and considered ignoring the game in Jakarta as well. However, the scheduling gods did not see fit to have an Indonesian Super League fixture while I was in Jakarta, and since I am obsessed with counting the number of countries in which I have seen sporting events (now at 19), it was the ABL after all.



The Warriors play at BritAma Arena Sports Mall at Mahaka Square. This is not really a sports venue, rather it is a small shopping mall with a basketball court. Getting there is painful as Jakarta's rush hour traffic is brutal, particularly on the highway. Coupled with a taxi driver who didn't know where he was going (or was ripping me off), I ended up about 30 minutes late, causing me to miss the first quarter and a bit. Turned out the taxi driver was doing me a favour, as when I arrived the score was just 23-16 for the home team - yet the second quarter was nearly half over! Another ugly game was in progress.



The ticket was 100,000 rupiah (about $10) for an unreserved seat behind the basket. But with no ushers and no reserved seating, I just sat at the first available spot facing one of the foul lines. The court has two levels and can hold up to 4,000 fans, but the upper deck was closed off today (you can see the black tarp in the shot below) so the fans were crowded into the lower section.



Barely ten minutes after I sat down it was halftime (Warriors leading 30-16) so I took the opportunity to tour the mall. Most of the stores were closed but there was a full-service supermarket open which had everything that you would expect, including fruits and vegetables. Turns out the neighbourhood is largely residential and there were more people doing their weekend shopping than watching the game!



I returned to my seat for the second half and the Warriors quickly went on a 9-3 run to make it 39-19 and end the suspense. There would be no epic comeback like the Bruins managed over some hapless, unnamed NHL team; instead the rest of the game was just back and forth basketball with the home team eventually winning 64-39. Considering the game is 40 minutes long, the Slingers managed to score less than a point per minute, unheard of in pro basketball. Did I mention it was ugly? Even the scoreboard was acting up, giving the Warriors players a total of 114 points.



After the game I managed to flag a cab down on the street. The return trip was much easier as there was less traffic and the route was direct. Still, if you are ever thinking of seeing a game here, allow a couple of hours to get to the mall from central Jakarta.

Notes

The owner of the Warriors, Erick Thohir, also owns a small part of the Philadelphia 76ers and there was a banner from the team. Interestingly, the Golden State Warriors used to play in Philadelphia from 1946-62.



One of the Warriors is Jerick Cañada, who has a great name even though it is pronounced Can-Yada.



Next Up

June and July are going to be quiet months as I prepare for another move, this time back to North America. Details are being worked out, but the good news is that I can finally do some serious sports road tripping. Check back soon for some big news in that regard.

Best,

Sean

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