KUALA LUMPUR: Former national coach Mike Russell is back in Malaysia to help provide the final touches to the snooker and billiards team for the SEA Games.
“I have been here for a little over two weeks and it will be only for the SEA Games period,” said Russel, who was the national coach in 2015.
He was initially hired for the Singapore SEA Games in 2015 and helped snooker players Thor Chuan Leong and Moh Keen Hoo clinch the singles and doubles gold medals.
He left in 2016.
Russell is now back for a two-month coaching stint with the Malaysia Snooker and Billiards Federation (MSBF).
“It is a very short time but Russell is familiar with our players as he has worked with them before. We have some talented players and there is a good chance that they will win on home ground,” said MSBF president Melvin Chia.
Apart from snooker, the KL Games will also be featuring pools and English billiards.
There will be seven gold medals at stake, and Malaysia are gunning for two.
And Russell reckons that “snooker looks the best bet for Malaysia to win the two golds”.
“Chuan Leong and Keen Hoo are back in the fray for the snooker singles and doubles. So there’s a good chance that we will be able to win at least one gold,” said Russell.
“The one setback for our pool and English billiards players is that they lack experience. The Thais and Filipinos are much better as they play all over the world.
“But we do have the talent and it will be a good outing for our players, some of whom are just 17 years old.
“There is no reason why we cannot produce some surprise results.
“There will be huge support. All our players need to do is to stay calm and focus on the task at hand.”
Malaysia’s best achievement in snooker and billiards at the Games came in Chiang Mai in 1995 when Asian champions Sam Chong and Ooi Chin Kay led the team to a 6-3-3 medal haul.