PETALING JAYA: Malaysian basketball is not moving up the ranks in the international arena anytime soon if the performances of their men's and women's juniors in the recent Asian championships in Kuwait and Taiwan respectively are taken as a yardstick.
While the Under-18 boys failed to achieve the top eight target set by the Malaysian Basketball Association (MABA), the girls fared worse, finishing eighth in a 10-team competition.
The boys finished 10th in a 14-team competition – one rung better than their last outing in Kuala Lumpur two years ago.
Losing to China (47-79) and Qatar (58-73) in their group matches ended Malaysia's hopes of finishing among the top eight. They, however, beat Sri Lanka 105-49 to secure third spot in the four-team group.
In the second group phase, Malaysia notched two wins over India (74-61) and Yemen (77-56) but were beaten by Lebanon (48-64) in the playoff for ninth place.
The tournament was eventually won by China, who defeated Iran 81-70 in the final. South Korea took third place.
In the girls' championship, three preliminary round defeats by South Korea (30-109), Japan (33-122) and Thailand (60-69) and a win over Mongolia (124-58) put Malaysia one rung off the bottom of their group.
Their misery was completed when they failed to secure seventh placing, which they achieved in the last championship in India in 2000, by losing to the Indians 68-83 in the playoff.
“Overall, the girls' performance was very disappointing,” said team manager Tan See Wah. “We felt they could at least finish seventh but they failed to perform up to expectations.”
See Wah was also dismayed by the players' lack of match fitness despite being together for the past two years.
“Physically, the team was not up to mark ... they were just not fit enough for the matches. Looking at their display, we will now emphasise more on their fitness and strength and build up their motivation to compete,” he said.