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Delvin Goh bounced back from nearly giving up to Singapore's main big man

SINGAPORE (Singapore) - It sometimes feels like Delvin Goh has been around forever, doesn't it? Anytime you see Singapore playing in a tournament somewhere, whether it's a national team event or a club competition, it just always seems like Delvin Goh is always there.

“When I first played for the youth national team back in 2009, I remember playing against guys like Guo Ailun from China, Kiefer Ravena from Philippines and many others. They all went on to become very important pieces of their senior men's national teams.”- Delvin Goh

So when you check up on his information every now and then, you're left a bit surprised to be reminded how young he still is relative to his experience.

Goh has been a staple on the national team ever since he made it to team at such a young age and all that is thanks to a random moment back at school.

"I was pulled to play basketball by the teacher-in-charge as I could run and my height suited the sport," Goh recalled. "I remember joining the training with zero experience. I didn't like it at first, you could pretty much tell that I didn't enjoy it."

But then a couple of weeks later, the sport started growing on him. Goh put in more effort to play harder and next thing you know, his shots near the basket started falling in.

"The feeling of putting a ball through the hoop changed my interest in basketball. I accepted it and from there, I never looked back."

It's a feeling that Goh has gotten used to a bit over the years. He was Singapore's leading scorer at the Asia Cup 2021 Pre-Qualifiers at 14.5 points per game. Goh has always been among one of the team's top point-getters all the way back to 2009 when he first suited up for Singapore at the FIBA U16 Asian Championship in Malaysia.

Goh is also a star when he suits up for club competitions as well, but he insists it's a different vibe when he's playing for the country right from his very first time doing so.

"National team play is really different from usual club competition or just leisure," he said. "The training is way tougher than anything else. The intensity and the pressure is out of this world."

"When I first played for the youth national team back in 2009, I remember playing against guys like Guo Ailun from China, Kiefer Ravena from Philippines and many others. They all went on to become very important pieces of their senior men's national teams."

Goh has done a pretty good job himself in solidifying his spot as a vital part of the Singapore national team. Aside from putting up points, Goh has always been Singapore's main man in the middle who is responsible for gobbling up any missed shots that come his way.

As a matter of fact, he was actually third among all players at the Asia Cup in 2015 in average rebounds per game. His 10.4 boards per contest made him only one of three players to average double-digits in rebounds, which was more than Andray Blatche, Quincy Davis, and even Yi Jianlian.

"That was really an eye-opener for our senior men's team and myself, to be at that very big stage. I remember our first game against the hosts China and that they went on to win the championship. Everyone knew it's was going to be a walk in the park for them, but we came out competing. Losing by 55 points made us realize how far we are but we loved the exposure and the experience gained. We are really impress with the China squad with Yi Jianlian, Guo, and Zhou Qi."

And to think he almost gave up basketball after that U16 tournament back in 2009.

"Funny how 2009 was the year that I thought about giving up. We had lost to a few teams by a big margin," Goh revealed. Singapore lost their opening match to Korea, 101-33.

"At that moment, I felt really lousy compared to the teams out there. It's hard to tell yourself that you're not good enough when you're one of the top few guys in your country but still stand so far away from the guys that are beating you by a large margin."

"This is what I always emphasize to the younger kids in Singapore. You might be dominating here but there's always someone better [than you] out there."

"I've been there done that. Sometimes, a little setback will push you towards greater things."

Those losses in Malaysia eventually fueled Goh to keep on improving. It eventually led to a senior national team debut in 2014 and an Asia Cup debut in 2015.

"I was really lucky to be on the right path of joining the senior national team right after a quick two years with the youth team," he said. "Being in the team early gave me a lot of advantages. The experience you get from playing against guys that are way older and experienced than you helped me to become who I am today."

"The [seniors] were good teachers for me as they taught me a lot from their experiences and I'm beyond thankful."

It's not a common path to experience national team basketball at this high of a level as Goh has experienced. He's been in system at such a young age, while also being a key part of the plan ever since the start.

There are ups and downs, but nonetheless, Goh hopes to see more kids get and seize the opportunity as he had.

"Playing on the National team at a young age, there's sort of pressure and not having any pressure any too at the same time."

"The pressure would be from the people in the same age group, like how they'd look at me whether I'd perform or not because I came in in earlier than them."

"Not having any pressure would be that because I was young, it was harder to play against guys that are older and bigger. It would have been easy for me to make excuses."

"But it's definitely something that we need to do more often, which is to get more young guys in early to build around. That's one of the best ways to grow!"

Delvin Goh would most likely know which are some of the best ways to grow. He's been around Singapore basketball for forever.

Or at least it seems like he has.