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Want to train like top NBA and NCAA basketball teams in S’pore? Now you can.

SINGAPORE – “42... 48... 50..,” announced a computerised voice as Singapore national basketballer Ng Han Bin took shots at a hoop repeatedly.

SINGAPORE – “42... 48... 50..,” announced a computerised voice as Singapore national basketballer Ng Han Bin took shots at a hoop repeatedly.

The 27-year-old, who also plays for the Singapore Slingers in the professional Asean Basketball League, listened intently each time, and then adjusted his position before making his next shot.

Fifty is the magic number. That’s the optimal arc that a player should angle the throw of his ball so that it will slip through the nets. The optimal shot depth is also 11 inches past the front of the rim.

All the statistics from Ng’s throws, including which part of the hoop his balls are entering, are recorded by a training technology called the “Noah System” and presented to him at the end.

The machine that dispenses the basketballs to Ng in quick succession is called the “Dr. Dish” shooting machine, and a player can take up to 1,300 balls an hour.

A monitor is also attached to the shooting machine and it shows the player’s shooting percentage, and hits and misses at different areas of the basketball court.

Once upon a time, these basketball training technologies were employed only by top National Basketball Association franchises and National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division 1 sides in the United States.

But since June 5, five of them have been housed in a 8,200 square feet basketball training facility in Eunos called “Shot Zone”.

Founded by Mitchell Folkoff, Tomer Loiter and Johnson Chen, Shot Zone consists of 10 quarter-courts, and is open to the public.

“It’s pretty insane. All the facilities are in one place, and it’s like a dream to train here,” SEA Games bronze medallist Ng told TODAY.

“You can look at your statistics and track your progress over the weeks and months towards a competition.

“It can definitely help Singapore basketball move up to the next level, and if we can work something out with Shot Zone, we are more than happy to be here training almost every other day.”

Costing about S$800,000 to build, Shot Zone has clearly got the local basketball fraternity talking. Elite local players and national coaches are feeling excited at how Singapore basketball standards can now be raised to the next level.

“We set this up because we felt Singapore basketball needed something to help improve the quality of training for youths all the way to adults,” said the 26-year-old Folkoff, a former Singapore Slinger and national player himself.

“For a long time, we didn’t have technology here to accompany training… The idea (behind this facility) is to build up Singapore basketball and take it to to levels it has never been. And with the right technologies that we have here, I think it is possible.

“We have good coaches, a proper curriculum to follow, and the best technology in South-east Asia, and maybe in Asia.

“They (national basketball team and the Slingers) love this place… They can work on their fundamentals and get their shots up.

“We also have leisure players coming in and wanting to get a good cardio workout, but we are focused more on players who aspire to play in the NCAA or professionally overseas.

Loiter, who is also the CEO of Shot Zone, was the brain behind the facility and roped Folkoff, who is also his daughter’s basketball coach, into the business.

Shuttling between the US and Singapore sometimes, the 46-year-old Loiter found it tough to find well-equipped training venues for his 14-year-old daughter, Ariel, who is a Singapore national Under-16 player.

“The technologies are all by different manufacturers in the US so it wasn’t easy getting them in. But I know having them in a integrated facility like Shot Zone in Singapore is important if we want to go far in basketball.

“Other teams like (basketball) powerhouses Philippines are at a different level than Singapore now, and have several professional players. But with Shot Zone, the Singapore players can improve their game at a faster rate, and hopefully get an edge over them and other regional countries.”

Besides Dr. Dish and the Noah System, Loiter has also brought in the 94Fifty, Fitlights, and Vertimax.

The 94Fifty ball is a basketball fitted with smart sensors inside it.

A player can do various drills with it, and statistics such as the speed of the drill, ball-handling skills and dribbling power will be compiled into a total score at the end of each training session.

Fitlights are standees with light censors. Players have to touch a censor when it lights up, and the Fitlights measure their reaction time. “Practising with the Fitlights helps with your reaction time and sensory interpretation,” explained Folkoff.

“So in game situations, it translates to helping with your quickness, defensive slides, defensive realignments, and just reading and reacting to the game.”

The Vertimax requires a user to be strapped with elastic bands, before doing repeated sports movements with the applied resistance.

“It builds your strength and conditioning, nimbleness, and explosive power,” said Folkoff.

“It’s very unique to sports like basketball because most of the stuff you do in the gyms are strength-based training and not replicated in games.

“But with Vertimax, you practise basketball-related movements with resistance. These can be applied directly to game situations.”

For a start, students from Raffles Institution, Anglican High and National Junior College, have already experienced these different training methodologies after being invited to Shot Zone for try-outs.

Shot Zone is also organising a competition in partnership with American sports clothing and accessories company Under Armour next month. The event is open to the public.

“Our hope is to bring these advanced basketball training methodologies to the masses, and share our facility with everyone who is interested in the sport,” said Loiter.

“We hope to one day bring these technologies to other countries in South-east Asia and Asia too, but the focus is on making this successful and popular in Singapore first.

“You can basically train like a NBA or top NCAA basketball player here in Singapore at Shot Zone.”


Hourly rates for bookings at Shot Zone:

Zone courts (quarter-courts): $50

Half courts: $150

One-to-one training: $90 (includes coach, and an additional $20 per student)

Small groups training: $90

Group trainings: $40

*Special prices available for those who sign for the annual membership programme which is priced at $120

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