Chance for hope­fuls to im­press

New Straits Times - - Sport -

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

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