WITH a little over a week left before their first game in the ASEAN Basketball League (ABL), the three Filipino imports of the Brunei Barracudas are excited to show their hardcourt brilliance when they play tournament favourite Singapore Slingers at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.
Veteran players Leo Avenido, Don Camaso and Francis 'Kiko' Adriano, who all played in the Philippine Basketball League (PBL) and the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA), arrived with coach Bong Ramos September 15. Their mission is to help the Barracudas, the Sultanate's first professional basketball team, perform well in the ABL.
The ABL, the region's first professional league, will kick off on October 10 in Jakarta, Indonesia and the following day, the tournament will hosted by Singapore Slingers, who will be the biggest test for the Barracudas.
Avenido, standing at 6ft 2in, who is a player in the guard position, will help to control the ball and set the tempo for the team.
"I think that the team still needs improvement.. at least that's what coach Bong said. We will do this as a team and we as imports are here to help out," said Avenido.
"But the main reason why we're playing here is to increase the talent of the local players," added the 31-year-old.
Avenido started out playing basketball on a competitive level at 1998. He was named the rookie of the year and named to the Mythical 5 team in 1999 while playing for the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP).
He entered the PBL in 2001 and was named the rookie of the year playing for Pharmaquick. He moved on to the PBA in 2002 playing for the Coca-Cola Tigers till 2004 before moving to Talk n' Text from 2005 to 2007. His career continued with him landing in Air21 before moving back to play for the Coca-Cola Tigers in 2008 until present.
Camaso, who is the tallest of the Filipino imports, stands 6ft 6in. He is the 1998 ABC-PBA and PBA slamdunk contests champion.
"I'm feeling good and excited as this is my third time here. I really like the place as it is very peaceful," commented Camaso on his take on Brunei.
When asked on what he tthinks of the Barracudas, Camaso replied, "I would like to help this team improve especially help out at the defensive end since I've got height.
"Hopefully I can get a smaller guy to guard so that it gives me an advantage," joked Camaso.
The 36-year-old started out his career in the PBA playing for Talk N' Text in 2000 until 2003. He was then traded to the Alaska Aces where he stayed for a year. His career continued with the Purefoods Chunkee Giants where he played from 2004 to 2006 before landing himself to play for the Red Bull Barako until 2008 before coming to Brunei to play for the Barracudas.
Adriano, standing at 6ft 2in, is a player known more for his defensive stops while playing in the PBA.
"It was when I played for the San Miguel Beermen that we had a lot of scorers on the team. So I had to do the little things such as hustle and defensive stops," said Adriano.
"But when I played for Red Bull, it was different as we could do almost what we wanted as long as we stayed with the system," added Adriano who is better known as Kiko to his teammates.
When asked on what he can say about Brunei, Kiko replied, "It's my first experience coming here but it's all good so far."
The 34-year-old feels that the team still needs time to develop prior to the competition. "The areas that I think need the most improvement in the team is our defence and also probably our one-on-one skills," said Adriano.
"I think that the local players here just need more time to develop. Best is probably to have a long term programme to start from young." said Adriano.
"I also observed that basketball here is more of a past time as if playing for fun compared to the Philippines where everyone gets competitive. Any aspiring player wants to join the professional league," opined Adriano.
Adriano got his first championship in the PBA with the Sta Lucia Realtors in 2001 where he played till 2004.
He moved on to play for the San Miguel Beermen in 2005 where he captured another championship with the team. His last team before coming to Brunei was to play for the Red Bull Barako where he was teammates with Camaso from 2007 to 2008.
The Barracudas will be playing their first game to the delight of the home fans on October 18 against the KL Dragons.The Brunei Times
Thursday, October 1, 2009
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