COACH Ariel Vanguardia hopes the Malaysia Dragons’ Asean Basketball League triumph would be the start of something big for Malaysia basketball, and he expressed willingness to help.
Westports Malaysia Dragons general manager Yakub Hussaini said the club is ready to discuss a partnership with the Malaysia Basketball Association (Maba),
“We might do a partnership with Maba,” said Hussaini.
“We have yet to sit down and come up with the terms and conditions of what they want and who takes care of what. We got to go back and speak with Maba.”
Malaysia is the only other nation aside from the Philippines to win a SEA Games gold medal, doing so in 1989 in Kuala Lumpur. But the nation's basketball program has since hit hard times, last winning a SEAG medal in 2007 with a bronze medal in Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand.
But the Dragons’ Filipino coach believes now is a good time for Malaysia to boost its program, but reiterated that only a solid basketball program similar to that in the Philippines and Singapore can turn things around.
“I hope this is the start especially for our locals because the SEA Games is here in Malaysia. I hope Malaysia follows the Philippines and Singapore. They got it done. Malaysia has to get it done also,” said Vanguardia.
Vanguardia also noted Malaysian basketball can benefit from early preparations for Kuala Lumpur’s hosting of the Southeast Asian Games next year.
“I’m willing to help but I don’t know in what capacity. I won’t go there if the situation is not clear. I want it clear like the Gilas program or like the Singapore program,” said Vanguardia.
“I’m not saying that there are problems internally here. But they (Philippines) got together and they decided that we have to get it done,” Vanguardia said.
Singapore, meanwhile, has also been making great strides in Southeast Asia basketball and won SEAG bronze last year. Vanguardia noted the Slingers’ players and coaches also train for the national team.
“They are tough because after the ABL, they are going to practice for the national team and they have the same system, and they have the same coach that we don’t have,” said Vanguardia.