Caption: The national basketball team pose for a group photo. Picture: Courtesy of Xavier Fong
Yee Chun Leong
BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN
THE national basketball team put up a commendable performance and exceeded expectations after finishing second at the Borneo City Cup in Miri.
Brunei had started the three-day competition losing 55-54 against the hosts on Friday.
They bounced back with a 55-45 victory over Kota Kinabalu the next day before closing out with a convincing 76-50 win over Labuan yesterday.
Despite the runner-up spot, national coach Xavier Fong expressed that his charges are the real champions in his heart.
“They gave me a surprise because they played really well especially against Miri and KK,” said Fong in an interview with BruSports News yesterday.
“Against Miri we were unlucky with the calls. We could have been champions but I’m very proud of my players.
“We beat Labuan comfortably since they were a very young team with only one star player.
“We trailed by 10 points but changed to man-to-man full court pressure defence allowing us to grab and extend our lead to 20 points in first half,” he added.
The Sultanate could have finished on top of the podium should KK defeat Miri by a margin less than 19 points but the former triumphed 90-70 to claim top honours.
“KK played really well in the second half. Miri gave up with six minutes left and unloaded their bench leaving the championship for the taking to KK,” said Fong.
“We couldn’t do anything about it but when we return we will continue to work hard,” he added.
The coach also highlighted the defensive prowess of senior player Benjamin Lim and also gave props to Choo Yung Jian, Lim Aik Hock, Khoo Chin Kai, Soon Kian Leong and Ahmad Termizi Nordeen for their strong performance.
“They combined really well with the other young players. This batch of players have really made Brunei proud,” said Fong.
“Those who watched them play in the first game thought we would be champions. Even KK told Labuan that they would lose to us even before we faced each other.
“How we managed to stop some of the key players in the other teams is really something,” he concluded.
Brunei will host the next edition of the competition next year.