WHILE local basketball fans are uncertain on how the Brunei Barracudas will perform in the Asean Basketball League (ABL), they are anxious about how the first professional league in the region will help promote the sport among Brunei's youth.
"I am really looking forward to the start of the ABL season. I think this is a really good thing for Brunei," said James, a Form Five student currently studying in a private school.
Having played the game for a little over six years, he said that Brunei's participation in the ABL will help local players, particularly the younger generation, become more interested and serious when playing basketball.
"We can compare the standard in Brunei with the neighbouring countries. We can see what are the differences between them and us and this can help motivate us and improve our skills," he said.
"It will also help to draw new players into the game. Also players taking part in the league will be able to help train the rest of us when we play together," added James who previously had been a big fan of the Singapore Slingers.
When asked how does he think the team will perform, James replied that he wasn't really optimistic of the results the team could achieve.
"It is the first time we are taking part in such a tournament so I don't think we are ready to compete at the top level yet but I am sure we will improve as the season continues," he said.
The same was said by a Universiti Brunei Darussalam (UBD) student who opted for anonymity.
"I don't know how well the team will perform but I am hoping for the best," said the 21-year-old who started playing basketball some eight years ago.
"Brunei has been hosting a lot of regional tournaments like the 'Pepsi Cup' but we do not really know how good is our standard compared to our neighbouring countries," he added.
He instead said that the public should not focus too much on the results achieved by the Brunei Barracudas but what their participation would mean to the game of basketball in Brunei.
"This will help bring the game in our country to another level and provide entertainment for us all," he said, adding that he would try to make it to every single game as long as the price of the tickets are affordable.
Ismail, introduced to basketball five years by his friends, said that he had not been keeping up with the developments of the ABL but will try to make it to as many of the games as he can.
"I really want to support them. I am not expecting much because the other countries have more experience playing on such a big stage whereas we don't," he said.
The self employed businessman predicted that, for the first few years in the league, the local players will be overshadowed by the imports as they still lack the necessary fitness and skills to play on such a level.
"But give them a few years and I expect them to be able to compete on a similar level," he said.
"I think this is a really good start and will be a very important experience for our national players. It has been a long time since I have seen so many people excited about basketball as most of us know the players in real life," added Ismail.
He explained that Brunei's participation in such a league can also help to motivate the local players to train harder as it is now a viable career for them.
"We now see basketball as a possible means of a career. I think with Brunei joining the league, there will be more interest and therefore more training camps and schemes which can help our future players improve," he added.
The ABL was launched at the Renaissance Hotel Ballroom in the Philippines on September 1.
Other teams participating are Kuala Lumpur Dragons, Philippine Patriots, Satria Muda BritAma of Indonesia, Thailand Tigers and Singapore Slingers.
Each team will have two foreign imports, three ASEAN imports and seven local players.
Teams will play in a home and away format culminating in playoffs for the top four teams.
The Brunei Barracudas, led by seven footer American Lonnie Jones and Filipino players Leo Avenido, Francis Adriano and Celedon Camaso, will face Singapore Slingers on October 11.
The Brunei Times
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
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