By Cheah Zong Heng (24S06P) and Darren Wong (24S03C)
Photographs courtesy of Raffles Photographic Society
On 29 July, Raffles’ Basketball players from the past and present alike converged on the Basketball courts enveloping the courts in a hubbub of activity. With a diverse spectrum of age groups, both male and female Basketball players took to the courts to engage in friendly matches against one another.
Their well-honed Basketball prowesses were on full display. The near-constant squeaking of the shoes echoed throughout the courts, a testament to the intensity of the match. Like clockwork, each team effortlessly passed balls, marked players and shot hoops. As they battled furiously for possession of the ball, attacking players expertly dodged layers of defences, scoring balls to thunderous cheers off-court.
Yet, juxtaposed against the competitive gameplay at the centre of the courts, the spectators mixed and mingled off-court, trading anecdotes and jokes. Some had now even brought their family along, with spouses and children alike viewing the game. (This writer even spotted a toddler waddling at the side of the court!)
A toddler takes possession of the ball
From the Past…
With the near-constant stream of alumni entering the venue and the sizable crowd clustering at its sides, it was difficult to imagine the Gryphon Cup having humble origins.
“At the start, there were only 6 teams in 1982,” recalled Mr Low of the first iteration of the Gryphon’s Cup. Being one of the most senior Basketball alumnus, he has been a participant in this yearly event since its inception. Noting that the number of teams have increased to 20, he was especially glad that more female teams have joined.
“The game has changed,” he mused, “Now, there is a 3-point line.” He also remarked that the present players have been growing taller, attributing it to improvements in health conditions enjoyed by the current generation.
Another difference observed by the alumnus was the gameplay. “For the older players, they are more systematic,” said Mabel and Zi Yan from the Batch of 2020, explaining that the older players typically centred around the ball movement.
“For the newer players, it is easier to learn technical skills.” They ascribed this change to the proliferation of YouTube tutorials.
However, despite the evolution of the game over the years, some aspects of the Rafflesian Basketballer experience will never change.
“Regardless of [the] generation, we all get covered in the same dirt,” admitted a former Basketballer from the Batch of 2018. “A lot of it is just sweating… it was pretty fun.”
…To the Present
While the male players partook in a full-length Basketball match, the female players participated in a 3×3 tournament. Ultimately, after several neck-to-neck games, unexpected twists and turns and nail-biting finishes, the Batch of 2009/2010 clinched first in the Gryphon Cup followed by the Batch of 2013/2014.
In the Gryphon Ladies Cup, the Batch of 2016 snagged the champion’s trophy while the Batch of 2007 settled for second.
Meanwhile, for the Gryphon Plate, the 2002/2003 batch finished in the pole position while the 2012/2015 team emerged second.
The prize-giving ceremony
After the prize-giving ceremony (where in one instance, 2 children collected the medals on behalf of a team), group photographs of each batch were taken. Though tired and sweaty from the recently-concluded matches, the players’ joy at being reunited with their teammates was palpable through their wide smiles. Standing shoulder-to-shoulder, it was evident that the bonds forged by their Rafflesian Basketball days have stood the test of time.
“It was a great experience playing with the different batches,” remarked Gerold Tay Yi (24S06P) after the Gryphon Cup had concluded. In particular, he was intrigued by the seniors from earlier batches sharing about their life experiences.“It has been great listening to their stories.”
As the collective bonding of the alumni of Raffles Basketball drew to a close, it was evident that former batches had enjoyed their time back at their alma mater.
“It feels good to see my batch mates and seniors come back,” smiled Mabel and Zi Yan. Echoing them, Mr Low (Batch of 1982) shared, “[It is the] best when all the alumni are back.”