Cagers a long way off
THERE remains a lot of work to do if Malaysia are to challenge for a podium finish at the Kuala Lumpur Sea Games in August going by the national team’s performance at the Southeast Asian Basketball Championship in Manila.
With only today’s game against winless Myanmar left to play, Malaysia are set to finish fourth in the seven-team tournament after taking silver in the 2015 edition.
However, the performances must be seen in the right context since the national team are effectively represented by secondstringers in Manila after coach Goh Cheng Huat left as many as six seniors at home to run the rule over those fighting to make it into the Sea Games squad.
After an encouraging win over Singapore to end a three-match losing start in the tournament, Malaysia struggled to edge Vietnam, not known for their basketball prowess, by a single point in overtime on Tuesday.
“I’m not very satisfied with the offence but on defence we were not bad though there is still a lot of room to improve,” Cheng Huat told Timesport yesterday in assessing his team.
“The offence has been very inconsistent and not physical and aggressive enough. Yesterday’s game (against Vietnam) was my fault because I thought they wouldn’t underestimate Vietnam.
“It turned out that we were totally unprepared to play and luckily, we managed to win in overtime.”
There have been some good displays with the Malaysia Dragons’ Ting Chun Hong scoring 28 points against Vietnam for the second highest individual score for the tournament, which boosted his average to 15.2 points per game.
Cheng Huat also named veteran Chan Kek Thai, Heng Yee Tong, Teo Kok Hou and Liaw Chee Huei as those who have performed reasonably well.
“Looking at the statistics, these are the players who have done well but they are still not able to handle crucial situations,” he said.
Cheng Huat will get a chance to integrate the senior players left behind at an invitational tournament in Kuala Lumpur next month.
Prior to leaving for Manila, Cheng Huat said he hoped to achieve more than the bronze medal target set by the Malaysian Basketball Association.
However, even making the podium would be an achievement for the men’s team who have not won a medal since taking bronze in Korat in 2007. Devinder Singh