Chance for hopefuls to impress
NATIONAL coach Goh Cheng Huat is not keen on showing his cards for the Kuala Lumpur Sea Games so soon after naming a young squad for the Southeast Asian Basketball (Seaba) Championships which begins in Manila tomorrow.
Several key players from the Malaysia Dragons Asean Basketball League (ABL) squad have been left behind as Cheng Huat looks to blood youngsters and keep his options open for the Sea Games in August.
With the Philippines strong favourites to win the Seaba Championship on home ground, Cheng Huat felt it would better for the likes of seniors Kwaan Yoong Jing, Kuek Tian Yuan, Ivan Yeo, Ma Chee Kheun and Wong Yi Hou to recover from a gruelling ABL season.
“We have kept our top guns at home because we have a bigger pool of players to choose from now,” Cheng Huat told Timesport before leaving for Manila yesterday.
“It is time I consider giving these players a chance to show what they can do on the international stage. It’s a new batch and I want to see whether they can contribute in the Sea Games.”
Cheng Huat still listed three Dragons players in Teo Kok Hou, Choo Wei Hong and Ting Chun Hong in the 12-man squad, who face Thailand in their opener tomorrow which will be followed by games against Indonesia, Philippines, Singapore, Vietnam and Myanmar in the seven-team round-robin contest.
Also included in the team were 33-year-old Chan Kek Thai, the only surviving member of Malaysia’s 2003 World Junior Championship campaign, and 30-year-old Chin Zhi Shin, to provide experience in a squad with an average age of 24.
With the Seaba Championship offering the winners a pathway to the 2019 World Cup, hosts Philippines have named a strong side which includes former Washington Wizard and Brooklyn Net centre Andray Blatche and Matthew Wright, who was part of the Dragons’ ABL title-winning team in 2016.
“We all know how strong the Philippines are but this tournament also allows me to assess Thailand, Singapore and Indonesia for the Sea Games,” said Cheng Huat. “We have to beat at least two of those teams to finish on the podium.”
SQUAD: Alvin Ang, Chan Kek Thai, Chin Zhi Shin, Choo Wei Hong, Vincent Choong, Heng Yee Tong, Liaw Chee Huei, Anthony Liew, Mak Lok Seng, Ong Wei Yong, Teo Kok Hou, Ting Chun Hong. Devinder Singh