Inaugural FIBA Intercontinental Cup sets Singapore Sports Hub Alight

Inaugural FIBA Intercontinental Cup sets Singapore Sports Hub Alight

Photo by Faizal Basir, SportPlus.SG

Held from 21-24 September 2023, the Singapore Indoor Stadium witnessed electrifying basketball action from world class players, including two-time NBA Champion Norris Cole and potential NBA draft 2024 first pick Ron Holland.

The prestigious FIBA Intercontinental Cup 2023 was held for the first time in Asia, with the Singapore Sports Hub as the perfect backdrop for such an event.

Inaugural FIBA Intercontinental Cup sets Singapore Sports Hub Alight

Photo by Faizal Basir, SportPlus.SG

FIBA INTERCONTINENTAL CUP 2023 ACTION
The first three days of action in the FIBA Intercontinental Cup saw the teams divided into two groups, A and B, vying for the top spot which would send them to the finals. 

Germany’s Telekom Baskets Bonn travelled to Singapore as Basketball Champions League winners while Egypt’s legendary Al Ahly had just won the Basketball Africa League. Al Manama from Bahrain qualified for the Intercontinental Cup on the back of winning the FIBA West Asia Super League. 

FIBA INTERCONTINENTAL CUP 2023 ACTION

Photo by Hana Basir, SportPlus.SG

Sesi Franca, hailing from their namesake Municipality in São Paulo, Brazil were winners of the Basketball Champions League Americas.

The NBA G League was represented by Ignite, one of the most exciting young teams in the minor league. Last but not least, The Zhejiang Golden Bulls stepped into Singapore as history-makers already, being the first Chinese club to ever participate in the FIBA Intercontinental Cup.

Inaugural FIBA Intercontinental Cup

Photo by Faizal Basir, SportPlus.SG

NEVER A DULL MOMENT
There was not a dull moment in the stadium. Beats of “Empire State of Mind”, “Crazy in Love”, “Still D.R.E” and a string of other heart-pumping classics hyped up the players and fans alike. Even as the the clock stopped and the court emptied out for breaks and timeouts, emcee Barbara Latimer, the Hype Squad, and performances from various SUPER24 finalists kept the crowd entertained.

At the end of the group phase, Sesi Franca and Telekom Baskets Bonn were set as the two finalists, having topped their respective groups.

Inaugural FIBA Intercontinental Cup

Photo by Hana Basir, SportPlus.SG

Al Ahly were runners-up in Group A after beating NBA G League Ignite and losing to the Brazilian outfit. Similarly in Group B, Zhejiang Golden Bulls had defeated Al Manama 95-78, before falling to Bonn the next day. The two teams battled for third place, where Wang Shilong’s Golden Bulls secured the last spot on the podium.

Ignite and Al Manama played out a close game to determine who would finish last. It was still anyone’s game up until the final three minutes when the American team went on to win 80-60.

It’s safe to say that the best was kept for last as fans got a thrilling finale to the event.

Inaugural FIBA Intercontinental Cup

Photo by Faizal Basir, SportPlus.SG

Sesi Franca were up 18-13 at the end of the first quarter but both teams took turns at taking the lead as the game went on, upping the tension by tying on several occasions.

By the end of the fourth quarter, the Telekom Baskets Bonn players had their arms up in the air in jubilation as they thought they had won 69-68 but there was drama right till the end. Umpires urged the players back on court. Due to a shot clock violation, the game was restarted with just 1.9 seconds to go.

Fans not only in the stadium but in the municipality of Franca, held their breaths. 1.9 seconds was all they needed. Captain Lucas Dias landed a buzzer beater fadeaway jump to end it 70-69.

Jubilation turned to bitter disappointment for the German team in a matter of seconds as Sesi Franca were crowned the 2023 FIBA Intercontinental Cup champions, which Head Coach Helinho Rubens hailed as the best day of his life. 

Inaugural FIBA Intercontinental Cup

Photo by Hana Basir, SportPlus.SG

THE FANZONE @ OCBC SQUARE
The fun at the FIBA Intercontinental Cup extended beyond the stadium. Hype transcended down to the OCBC Square, where a range of activities and performances were held alongside the food and merchandise booths and on the makeshift street basketball court. 

With a variety of games and prizes to be won, the most enthralling was the Street Ball 4v4 challenge consisting of a U19 category and a men’s open category.

Those at OCBC Square on Saturday’s Street Ball 4v4 challenge were joined by a host of Mediacorp Artistes including YES 933 FM’s Zhu Ze Liang and Lim Pin Juen, Class 95 DJs Yasminne Cheng and Catherine Robert, as well as actor Romeo Tan. Their participation added star power and excitement to the event, making it a memorable day for everyone.

Jr hoop & Mediacorp

Photo by Singapore Sports Hub

Fans were treated to a meet and greet session with NBA legend Ian Mahinmi, who sportingly signed autographs and obliged with photo requests. Mahinmi also made a special appearance at the Jr Hooper Basketball Clinic supported by Jr NBA coach Carlos Barroca.

Participants of the clinic learned plenty from both Mahinmi and Barroca, such as how basketball can be a powerful tool to connect and inspire youths to pursue their dreams. 
  
Scores of people watched the nail-biting Street Ball 4v4 challenge finals on Sunday. It was an intense 15 minutes between Heart of Basketball and Sunflower in the U19 category. Friends, family and curious bystanders filled the stands, benches and even spaces on the floor, witnessing Heart Of Basketball’s triumph in the end as the team went home with the $500 top prize.

The men’s open category finals saw Tungsan take on Kai Xuan Basketball for the top prize, with Tungsan emerging victorious after the buzzer to claim the $800 prize money and champions trophy.

Across three days, visitors to the OCBC Square were treated to an entertainment lineup consisting of Leon and Band, DJ Yenn, LED Water Drummer, Fatt and Karyn as well as Anchorblanc, who performed pop hits such as Dance Monkey by Tones and I and Ed Sheeran’s Shape Of You.

This however, isn’t the end. The FIBA Intercontinental Cup 2023 was just the first of three consecutive editions set to be held in Singapore. The trophy will make its return in 2024 to Kallang’s shores where it will once again enchant basketball fans in Singapore.
 

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