BLUSTAR coach Goh Cheng Huat is thankful to the PBA D-League for the opportunity to play this conference as the Malaysian core of the Asean Basketball League (ABL) champions KL Dragons strut their wares in the Foundation Cup.
Goh said the Dragons' exposure in the PBA D-League, after the league opened its doors to international squads in the Foundation Cup, will be big for the development of the team.
“One of our objectives here is to expose [them] to the Philippine ways,” Goh told reporters on Monday.
The Dragons, however, had a rough Foundation Cup debut, bowing to Tanduay, 89-97. Still, he sees the campaign as a step in the right direction for the Dragons as well as for Malaysian basketball.
“We know that you, Philippines, good in that (basketball). I take this opportunity to thank the PBA D-League for this competition. Hopefully, now the players can pick up knowledge as much as possible to become better players,” he said.
Goh took over the reins for the Dragons squad following the appointment of longtime mentor Ariel Vanguardia as head coach of Phoenix in the PBA. Vanguardia led the team to the 2016 ABL title after beating the Singapore Slingers.
But despite winning the ABL crown, Goh sees the PBA D-League stint as a true test to the local Malaysian players, most of whom belong to the national team.
It's also a much-needed boost to the Malaysian national squad, which recently finished fourth out of five teams in the Seaba Stankovic Cup won by the Gilas cadets squad.
“To me, ABL is a game of imports. You pick four best imports and you win the championship. But to me, it doesn’t really benefit our locals. Now, the owner realized that, and we are thankful to the PBA D-League for exposing them to a higher level of basketball,” said Goh.
Goh hopes that the team will improve as the conference goes on, while at the same time he's realistic about their chances in the Foundation Cup.
“This is the first time we played in this league. They started very jittery and they didn’t know what to do,” said Goh.
“Of course, we know our level. Our target is to just do our best and get used to playing in this league. Our target is just to make it to the playoffs,” he added.
Goh also looks to beef up its squad in the coming weeks, hoping that national mainstays Shee Fai Loh, one of the top shooters of the Malaysian squad, and Kwaan Yoong Jing will join the team.
“Both of them are in rehab. During the Stankovic Cup, he (Shee Fai) was there but he is not 100 percent because (he is recovering from an) ACL injury. We will try to get him to play,” said Goh.