Myanmar losses pile up, but audacious Aung Wana wins hearts of Pinoy fans
Myanmar's Wana Aung, a 22-year-old 5-foot-11 forward, was an instant hit with the fans at the Big Dome. Jerome Ascano

EAGER to help a country with little basketball pedigree make a mark in international play, Myanmar’s Wana Aung found an appreciative audience.

Showing great determination, Wana Aung led Myanmar to a decent performance in a loss to Vietnam in the Seaba Championship at the Araneta Colisueum.

The performance was a hit with a crowd that loves underdogs, the Filipino fans cheering his every offensive move as Wana, perhaps the most skilled player in the team, played all-out despite the limitations.

Even Gilas Pilipinas big man Andray Blatche, who was at courtside during the second half of the match, cheered after Wana made one of his baskets in a 21-point outing.

[See Vietnam shrugs off brave Myanmar rally to post first win in Seaba]

Wana felt proud after getting that response from the crowd, according to interpreter and teammate Sai Phyo Kyaw.

“Even Philippines (Filipinos) cheer for him,” he said. “This is the first step for Myanmar. He feels so blessed for that.”

Myanmar coach Ten Kok Heng was also happy with the reception of the crowd.

"Thank you for supporting us," said Ten.

[See Vietnamese player Van Hung Nguyen a SEAG gold medalist and Olympian — in taekwondo]

“He is good," said Ten when asked about his star, although he readily revealed he feels Wana can deliver much more for the team.

"Offensively, he is good. On defense, he is lazy. Very lazy. That’s why I’m having a hard time.”

“But he is learning,” said Ten.

Wana said he learned a lot from their first match against Myanmar in terms of how far they still have to catch up before being one of the best in Southeast Asia.

“He (Wana) learned so much from the Philippines like stamina, set play, and power,” Sai Phyo Kyaw said.

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