Barracudas start sharpening fangs

Head coach Ozell Wells will look to guide the Brunei Barracudas to glory in the sophomore season of the AirAsia ASEAN Basketball League. Picture: BT/ Yee Chun Leong

Saturday, September 18, 2010

With well less than two weeks before their opener of the sophomore season of the AirAsia ASEAN Basketball League (ABL), the Barracudas held their first two training sessions under newly appointed head coach Ozell Wells yesterday.

American import, Chris Commons, and the trio of ASEAN imports, Kevin White, Chester Tolomia and Bryan Faundo, have all checked in for Brunei's first professional team.

Only the second American import, Kenny Boyd, has yet to arrive to complete the roster.

The imports will join Bruneian players of Esmond Tan, Xavier Fong, Benjamin Lim, Presley Ho, Hj Md Badri Hj Suhaili, Zainul Ashyraf Hj Hussin and Soon Kian Leong.

The 33-year-old Wells, who is no stranger when it comes to coaching around in Asia as he has had jobs in Qatar, Syria, China and Saudi Arabia, feels optimistic about the team.

"We're here to play exciting basketball. I will not accept less than one sold out game.

"I believe that this team assembled is better from A-Z compared to last season," said Wells, who started coaching at the age of 18 after having to give up playing the sport he loves due to problems with his central nervous system.

"We've good players looking at their resume and they are all here to do something for the team," he added.

When asked on why he chose to come to Brunei, Wells replied: "The same question was asked when I coached at Yemen, It is the same reason then which is because of the love of basketball.

"I'm here to blaze a trail as we have a female owner who wants to make history and I believe that this Asean League will be the ground floor of something big in the future."

Having to coach a team from scratch is nothing new to the Michigan native after he took over the helm for the Trinidad and Tobago basketball team two weeks before the Centrobasket Championships in July.

He eventually led the women basketballers to a fourth place finish amongst eight teams in the competition.

"The level of excitement is there and we need to do the most we can with the team we have. The most important is the intention and discipline," said Wells.

"We're working on our fitness and shot selection in the morning and running some plays on our system in the afternoons at the moment," added the former Yemen national coach.

"The local players have got good energy, it's almost like Christmas eve where they want to know what's inside their presents.

"This is where the area of creativity comes in and I believe we can get them ready in these two weeks," he said.

Nadzaty Azma Azeez, the owner of the Barracudas, was also at hand to watch her team train in the morning session and was impressed by what's happening in the camp.

"It is good to see that the coach is emphasizing on communication and working on team bonding at the moment.

"Things look really positive and they are blending well into a single group. Team chemistry is definitely there," Nadzaty said during an interview yesterday.

The Barracudas management also wanted to thank the Brunei Tourism Board, Department of Youth and Sports and Queenielin Enterprise, who are the producers of official Barracudas Apparel this season, for their continuous support for the team.

The Barracudas will be holding a team launching event at The Mall and is slated for the 26th later this month.

The Barracudas will open their season away to the defending champions, the Philippine Patriots, on October 3 at the Ynares Sports Arena in the Philippines followed by a matchup against the newly formed Thailand Cobras at the Nimibutr National Stadium in Bangkok on October 9.

Fans in the Sultanate will get to see the Barracudas in action for the first time this season when they return home on Oct 16 to face the Patriots once again at the Brunei Indoor Stadium.

The Brunei Times