Tian Hock hopes to bring in young naturalised players

KUALA LUMPUR: There are big plans to spice up basketball in Malaysia.

The Malaysia Basketball Association’s (Maba) newly elected president Datuk Lee Tian Hock is all for a move to bring in naturalised players to strengthen the national men’s team in the future.

Tian Hock is planning to bring in the young ones so that they can be groomed.

“In basketball, we need to have tall players. But unfortunately, the tall players that we have in mind and skilful ones as well are so hard to find,” he said.

“We want to look at the countries in the Eastern Bloc like Bosnia and Serbia where we can identify the tall players between 12 to 14 years of age and where it can also be cost efficient for us.

“If the country gives the approval, we have identified ways to bring in the naturalised players.

“We are planning to visit some of the schools there where they have the facilities, and work closely with them. We can send our players to train there at the same time.

“In fact, I had breakfast earlier this week with Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Faizal Azumu and Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Saifuddin Abdullah.

“I brought up this idea and they were receptive. As I said earlier, we can only proceed if the government agrees as it involves many aspects.”

Malaysia will not be the only country to go down this road as Thailand and Indonesia have already started using naturalised players while the Philippines, the strongest basketball force in the region, have been doing it for some time.

Naturalised players are a common feature in international basketball with several countries using them in FIBA competitions.

Meanwhile, Tian Hock also presided over Maba’s first exco meeting for 2022 and said they would finalise their budget and planning issues.

“We currently have RM1.8mil in funds but we need RM4mil in total to run the training and competition programmes this year, so it’s up to the exco and I to bridge the budget deficit,” he said.

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