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Tuesday November 20, 2012

MNBL a resounding success and great platform for youngsters to shine

Jubilant: Farmcochem players celebrating their win over Westports Malaysia
Dragons after the final buzzer in the MNBL final on Sunday. — M. AZHAR ARIF
/ The Star Jubilant: Farmcochem players celebrating their win over Westports Malaysia Dragons after the final buzzer in the MNBL final on Sunday. — M. AZHAR ARIF / The Star

PETALING JAYA: The recently concluded Malaysian National Basketball League (MNBL) was a resounding success and definitely the right platform for local cagers to improve.

The tournament, which ended on Sunday, saw Farmcochem walk away with the title after edging the Westports Malaysia Dragons 81-78. That was a quality match and had the crowd on the edge of their seats as both teams battled until the very last minute.

However, there can only be one winner, and Lady Luck was with Farmcochem especially as Dragons’ sharpshooter K. Satyaseelan missed a late three-pointer which could have sent the match into overtime.

But it was a well deserved win for the Perak-based team – led by Cameroonian import Chris Kuete, who also picked up the tournament’s Most Valuable Player (MVP) award, as they had shown consistency since the first match three weeks ago.

Malaysia Basketball Association (Maba) secretary general Chey Thet Woon, who is also the owner of Farmcochem, believes that the MNBL has achieved its objective of grooming local players.

“This is the first time Maba had taken on the challenge of organising the MNBL, which was previously privately owned, and we are really happy at the response and results,” said Thet Woon.

“It was a really tough challenge trying to organise this tournament because the biggest hurdle was to get teams to sign up. We managed to persuade the Penang Stallions to come in and we also sent in the national juniors (Crouching Tigers)

“The level of competition was high and the four main teams – Farmcochem, Dragons, Stallions and the Sarawak Fire Horse – were of equal standard. It made the tournament exciting.

“I spoke to several players and most of them, especially the juniors, were really happy at the chance to play at such a level.

“It’s a good start and we are definitely working towards getting more sponsors for next year and possibly more teams, with the Singapore Siglap and a Brunei team showing interest.

“The crowd reception was also fantastic because we never expected a full house. But it was packed during the semi-finals and final.

“However, we will also look into reviewing some of the tournament’s format and may introduce playoffs in the semi-finals next year,” added Thet Woon.

With such good response from both players and fans alike, the MNBL definitely has the potential to become better and bigger.

It may not become as big as the Asean Basketball League (ABL), but given more time and funds, it can certainly evolve into a local fixture on the Malaysian sports calendar.

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