KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia have named a mixed team of seniors and juniors for the 5th South East Asia (SEABA) basketball tournament but they face an uphill task in booking a place in the Asian Championship in Haerbin, China next month.
Only the top two teams in the SEABA tournament, starting on Tuesday at the Maba Stadium, will qualify for the Asian meet from Sept 23 to Oct 2.
With Thailand, the Philippines and Vietnam as rivals, hosts Malaysia will be hard pressed to be among the top two.
The four teams will play in a round robin format in three-day tournament.
National chief coach Felton Sealey has named two juniors, who played in the World Junior Cup in Greece last month, in his 12-man squad.
“I was impressed with the performances of Chan (Kek Thai) and Ang (Tun Kaw) in the Junior World Cup.
“Although they are only 19 years' old, I feel they can match the seniors and give their best against the bigger and tougher opponents,'' said Sealey.
The American coach has also included two Agong's Cup players in the national team. They are Francis Loh Hoo Won and Chin Choon Siong. Both will be donning national colours for the first time.
“Choon Siong is exceptionally good with his three pointers and is an all-round player while Francis is hard working and can play in all positions.”
K. Satyaseelan stays as captain.
Sealey, however, conceded that it would be difficult finishing among the top two, especially with defending champions the Philippines and Thailand around.
“The Philippines have won the last two SEABA tournament and will start out as the favourites. Thailand are also strong contenders. They finished runners-up in the last two tournaments.
“Besides, Thailand have named an experienced team with average age of 29. We also face a daunting task against Vietnam, who are preparing for the SEA Games which they will host in December.”
Malaysian Basketball Association (MABA) secretary-general Datuk Yeoh Choo Hock said the duration for the tournament was only for three days (Aug 19-21) because the draw for the Asian championship in China would be held on Aug 26.
“Fourteen teams have booked their places in the Asian Championship and the last two spots will come from the SEABA tournament.”
The winner of the tournament in China will be the sole Asian representative to Athens Olympics next year.
“We would like to thank Milo for coming forward to sponsor the three-day tournament at such short notice,'' said Choo Hock. The Philipines had first been scheduled to host the meet but pulled out at the last minute.
Milo will sponsor RM15,000 in kind and cash for the tournament. Tickets are priced at RM10 for two matches a day.
Aug 19: Philippines vs Thailand (6.30pm), Malaysia vs Vietnam (8.30pm)
Aug 20: Vietnam vs Philippines (6.30pm), Thailand vs Malaysia (8.30pm)
Aug 21: Vietnam vs Thailand (6.30pm), Malaysia vs Philippines (8.30pm)
(All matches at Maba Stadium)
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