MSBF rope in old hands as they seek two gold medals

MALAYSIA'S best-ever showing in snooker and billiards at the SEA Games was in Chiang Mai in 1995. 

Asian champions Sam Chong (1990) and Ooi Chin Kay (1994) led Malaysia to their biggest haul in the Games series with a haul of 12 medals, including six golds (6-3-3). 

Since then, the cue sport's fortunes took a dive. In Jakarta '97, the Malaysians returned with a 2-1-0 haul and in Brunei '99 it dwindled to 1-3-0.  

It became even worse in the last three Games – Kuala Lumpur 2001 (0-2-1), Vietnam 2003 (0-3-0) and Manila 2005 (0-1-5). 

This time around, the Malaysian Snooker and Billiards Federation (MSBF) have set a modest two-gold target out of the 13 up for grabs. 

To achieve the target, the MSBF have roped in two seasoned campaigners. 

The inclusion of national champion Benjamin Lee Poh Soon in the pools and John Yong Kien Foot, a former SEA Games snooker team gold medallist, have added depth to the team.  

“It is hard to predict where the medals will come from but I can narrow them down to the pools and snooker players,” said team manager Melvin Chia See Oon.  

Malaysia are sending an 11-member squad, including four women.  

Moh Keen Hoo, John Yong Kien Foot, Thor Chuan Leong (snooker, carom), Ibrahim Amir, Benjamin Lee Poh Soon (pools), Moh Loon Hoong and Roslan Yurnalis (billiards) will be competing in the men's events. Esther Kwan Suet Yee, Suhana Dewi Sabtu, Wong Poi Sei, Lim Siew Boon (pools) will be featuring in the women's events. 

The 38-year-old Kien Foot, whose last Games appearance was in KL 2001, said he was glad to be back in the team. 

“I will not let MSBF down. I have set my own target and hope to produce at least a couple of medals,” said Kien Foot, who is down to compete in all four snooker events - singles, doubles, team and the new six-ball game. 

Veteran billiards player Loon Hoong is a gold medal prospect. He was a double gold medallist in Chiang Mai, winning the singles and doubles with Elvin Lian. This time, Loon Hoong will be partnering Roslan. 

Ibrahim, who picked up the eight-ball pool singles silver in Vietnam 2003, is also a strong medal potential together with Esther, a silver medallist at the Doha Asian Games last December.  

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