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Singapore Slingers pull out of NBL
17:21 AEST Tue Jul 29 2008

Crippling air fares have grounded the Singapore Slingers, who have officially withdrawn from the National Basketball League.

NBL interim chief executive Chuck Harmison said that the Slingers, the first Asian team to compete in the NBL, had pulled out of the competition permanently and would start up a league in their local region.

When the Slingers joined an expanded NBL in 2006-07 the franchise agreed to cover all travel costs, an arrangement which eventually led to their downfall.

With eastern seaboard powers Sydney and Brisbane both financial casualties for the upcoming 2009-10 NBL season it leaves only 10 teams - nine in Australia plus the New Zealand Breakers - with a six-team finals format instead of eight.

But each of the remaining eight clubs will still play 30 matches in the home and away season which begins on September 13.

After undertaking an extensive internal review, the Slingers and their major backer, the Singapore Sports Council, came to the conclusion they could no longer continue to play in the NBL.

Harmison said the review concluded the future of the Slingers lay closer to home, rather than in a league based thousands of kilometres away.

"Instead, the team is looking at setting up its own local Asian professional league, and we wish them well with that venture," said Harmison.

He said the spiralling cost of international travel was a major factor in the Slingers' decision, with the price of jet fuel more than doubling over the past 12 months.

"With no slowdown in sight, the negative impact of this unanticipated cost blowout was likely to critically affect the teams business model in the long term," he said.

"Following the review, the Slingers indicated they could not maintain their original commitment to cover all team flight costs to and from Singapore and made a formal request to enter the NBL Travel Pool, which equalises the overall cost of airfares across our other teams.

"After due deliberation, the league made it clear this was not an option."

The Slingers, the brainchild of NBL stalwart Bob Turner, were coached by Australian Gordie McLeod.

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