Sunday July 10, 2005
Malaysia down Thais to lift Seaba title after a 12-year wait
BY LIM TEIK HUAT
KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia put up a spirited display in the second half to beat Thailand 74-58 to capture the men's South-east Asian (Seaba) Basketball Championship title at Maba Stadium here last night.
The win over their northern arch-rivals not only ensured qualification for the Asian Championship in Doha from Sept 8-16 but also gave Malaysia their first Seaba championship title in 12 years.
Malaysia last captured the title when they hosted the event in Segamat in 1994 but have failed to win since then.
Indonesia were the next champions before Philippines won it three times in a row after that.
However, the Thais certainly did not made it easy for the Malaysian team.
The Malaysian men’s basketball team celebrate after beating Thailand 74-58 in their last match to lift the Seaba title at the Maba Stadium on Saturday night. – STARpic by KAMARUL ARIFFIN
Trailing 15-21 after the first quarter, Malaysia found it hard to breach the Thai defence.
Malaysia managed to narrow the deficit to 31-33 and then stepped up the pace in the third quarter.
Co-captain K. Satyaseelan continued with his impressive performance upfront, often making fast breakaways and Malaysia began dictating terms after that.
A 15-points blitz in three minutes helped Malaysia take a 56-44 lead into the fourth quarter.
The deficit proved too much for the Thais and Malaysia eventually secured victory with a 74-58 margin to emerge as the only unbeaten team in the five-nation round robin tournament.
The Malaysian team had beaten Vietnam, Singapore and Indonesia earlier.
Indonesia, who defeated Thailand 83-57 two days ago, joined Malaysia as qualifiers for the Asian Championship when they whipped Vietnam 110-50 in an earlier match.
Malaysian coach Brian Lester said the players were fitter physically compared to last time and it helped them maintain the pace till the end.
Centre Chan Kek Thai top-scored for the Malaysian team with 16 points last night.
“Our players were stronger physically and we used it to our advantage to break away in the third quarter,” said Lester.
“I am really happy for the entire team. We have the youngest team in the competition but they played their hearts out. I am proud of them and beating the SEA Games silver medallists tonight by more than 15 points ... I could not asked more than this,” said the delighted Australian.
Malaysia took bronze in the SEA Games in Vietnam two years ago after losing to Thailand and Philippines respectively.
Indonesia bt Vietnam 110-50, Malaysia bt Thailand 74-58.