IT’S going to be a big day for both Philippines and Indonesian basketball this Saturday.
Here at home, the San Miguel Beermen face off against the Indonesia Warriors with both clubs seeking their first-ever Asean Basketball League title in the deciding match of the best-of-three finals at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City.
In Singapore, the Philippine Under-18 basketball team battle its Indonesian counterpart in what could be the showdown for the title on the final day of the Seaba Under-18 championship.
It may be difficult for both Indonesian teams to beat the Philippine squads, but one thing is sure, Filipinos have had a huge influence in the development of the sport in Indonesia.
Indonesian basketball has strong ties with Filipino coaches who turned out to be responsible for the development of the sport, with Boyzie Zamar and Bong Ramos among several coaches who had stints in the country.
None may have had a bigger influence than veteran mentor Nat Canson, who has been coaching in the country since the late 1980s.
The 71-year-old Canson helps in the development of basketball in the pre-dominantly Muslim country, coaching the Indonesian Under-18 team that is gunning for a spot in the Fiba-Asia Under-18 championship in Mongolia this year.
“The team is getting taller. Ang team ko ngayon, ang average height ay 6-3 but they are still lacking in ball handling,” said Canson, downplaying his team’s chances.
So far, the Indonesian Under-18 squad has been impressive in the tournament, scoring a 54-43 victory over host country Singapore Tuesday night.
“Of course, our goal is to win the championship but we hope to finish at least third so that we could advance to the Fiba-Asia tournament,” said Canson, who recently led his club team Muba Hang Tuah to the Indonesian basketball crown.
In the ABL side, Indonesia has foreign reinforcements but San Miguel coach Bobby Parks is also wary about the Warriors’ locals including Mario Wuysang, Amin Prihantono and Rony Gunawan.
“I don’t know their complete names but I know them, believe me,” said Parks recently.
The Beermen coach can attest to the improvement of Indonesian players. He played a few seasons in Indonesia for Aspac in the defunct Kobatama League in the latter part of his career.
“Players have gotten taller and better and they are playing their position based on their height,” Parks said.
But Canson was quick to point out that Indonesia still has a long way to go in basketball.
“They really lack coaching clinics there,” Canson said. “Ang nangyayari kasi doon, a lot of NBA players are coming over giving clinics to players. Pero walang coaching clinics kaya mabagal din ang development ng players.”