Basketball

Published: Wednesday December 4, 2013 MYT 10:35:00 PM
Updated: Wednesday December 4, 2013 MYT 10:42:14 PM

Old hand Koh can steer basketball team to medal

KUALA LUMPUR: For veteran cager Koh Way Tek, this year’s SEA Games in Naypyitaw represents a second chance in the sport that he loves.

The 30-year-old Way Tek is one of the most experienced players in the men’s team, having featured in three previous editions – 2001 in KL, 2003 in Ho Chi Minh City and 2007 in Korat.

The towering Way Tek, however, has been out of the national team for the past four years and, more or less, semi-retired due to work commitments in his hometown at Yong Peng, Johor.

But the 1.93m-tall Way Tek never gave up the sport, consistently training on his own and he is now back in the national set-up, thanks to strong performances in this year’s Agong Cup National Championships and the Malaysian National Basketball League.

Now Way Tek, who is the only member of the team to have earned at least a silver from the Games in 2001, is ready to lend his experience to his much younger team-mates as they seek to win only their second gold since 1989 and end the Philippines’ dominance.

“To be honest, I actually made a new year wish this year ... and one was to get back into the national team,” said Way Tek.

“But it was not easy because I’ve been out of touch for a long time and I can’t train as hard as the younger boys due to my work.

“But I started slowly, training in the evenings after work and slowly building up my stamina by jogging.

“When coach Paul (Advincula) asked me to join the training a while back, I couldn’t say no ... A lot of things have changed since I left ... most of my former team-mates are no longer around and the current team is so much younger.

“But they will only continue to improve with the good attitude that they are showing and with more competitive matches.

“In terms of medal prospects, it’s going to be hard to beat the Filipinos.

“But I’ve always returned from the SEA Games with a medal – silver in 2001 and bronze in 2003 and 2007 – so, I think I can be the team’s lucky charm as well.”

The other experienced hands in the squad are Ooi Ban Sin, Soo Eng Heng, Loh Shee Fai, Kuek Tian Yuan and Kwaan Yoong Jing.

National head coach Advincula admitted that it was hard not to recall Way Tek as he was the “top performer” during the MNBL and Agong Cup.

“Way Tek will bring loads of experience to the team and his height and strength will be very useful against the bigger teams,” said Advincula.

The men’s and women’s teams were the first Malaysian contingent to leave for Naypyitaw on Wednesday.

Tags / Keywords: SEA Games, Naypyitaw, Nyapidaw, Myanmar, basketball

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