Chris Kuete (left) and Lashawn Malloy during Farmcochem's press conference where the squad was unveiled.
SUBANG: Chris Kuete, the Most Valuable Player (MVP) at last year’s Malaysian National Basketball League (MNBL), is back and hopes to lead Farmcochem to become the first team that manages to defend their title.
“It feels good to be back in Malaysia. I’ve played here for quite a few years already so it feels like coming home,” said the 1.93m Cameroonian during the team’s player unveiling Wednesday.
“It’s also good to be back with Farmcochem because I like playing with these boys.
“The team looks fitter this time and there are a lot of younger players, which is good. I guess we’ll be doing a lot of running this time.
“I just hope that we do not suffer many injuries because last year we really had to play with a thin squad with many of my teammates injured.
“As for myself, I’m always fit as I take good care of my body. Furthermore, I was training with the Cameroon national team a while back so I’m in good shape.
“The target this year is simple. We will try to repeat last year’s winning feat and also aim to be the first team to defend the title.
“With a younger team, there will be less pressure on us so we’re looking at positive results,” added Kuete.
Besides him, Farmcochem have also brought in 2.08m centre Lashawn Malloy to bolster the squad.
American Malloy who hails from Portland, Oregon, last played in the Japanese league with Yokohama B-Corsairs, helping them win the league title.
Farmcochem have also retained most of last year’s winning squad - captain Ooi Ban Sin, Chin Teck Wei, Wong Chin Yong, Koh Way Teck, Alex Yoew, Sia Ka Hock and Phuan Juin Chyi.
They will however miss the services of national point guard Tong Wen Keong who is out injured but reinforcements come in the form of Lee Chien Chung, Tan Wai Seng and youngsters Keng Eng Hong, Mak Lok Seng, Teo Kok Hou and Ng Cheng Toong.
“We have a good squad which is a combination of experienced players and youngsters. It will be tough to retain the title but the challenge is for the team to step up,” said head coach Antolin ‘Toto’ Zamar who took over after Paul Advincula left to take on the position of national coach.
The MNBL starts this weekend in Miri, before heading to Bintulu from Sept 12-14, Kota Baru (Sept 21-23) and finally Kuala Lumpur from Sept 27-29.