“Just relax and play at your own pace.”
That’s the advice national coach Goh Cheng Huat has given his charges ahead of the men’s basketball competition at the Maba Stadium today.
And Cheng Huat, who was a member of the 1979 gold-medal winning team in Jakarta, believes nothing is impossible on match day.
“During my time, we were not expected to produce anything special. There were no expectations on us. But we prepared well and just played our best,” said the 62-year-old coach.
“I want my players to go out there and enjoy the game. Let’s reap the results of our hard work over the last few months.
“There’s no pressure on my men. They’ve prepared well and they just need to fight hard on court.”
Cheng Huat also believes that the team’s gruelling build-up over the last few months, which included playing tours in Australia and New Zealand, will hold them in good stead as they try to win a medal.
It won’t be easy, though. They will need to overcome favourites the Philippines, seven-time silver medallists Thailand and Myanmar in Group A to make the semi-finals.
Group B comprises Indonesia, Singapore, Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos.
While Myanmar may not pose a big threat, Thailand have bolstered their ranks with the inclusion of Thai-American Tyler Lamb.
The Philippines also have a talented squad, having included Kiefer Ravena, Bobby Ray Parks Jr, Mac Belo and 2.03m tall Christian Standhardinger.
Malaysia, who are led by veteran Chee Li Wei, take on Myanmar today followed by the crucial match against Thailand tomorrow. They will wrap up their group fixtures against the Philippines on Aug 23.
In the women’s round-robin event, Malaysia will start their title defence by taking on Vietnam today.
The other five teams are Thailand, the Philippines, Indonesia, Singapore and Myanmar.See our full coverage of SEA Games 2017