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Barracudas optimistic - Oct 7, 2010

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Barracudas optimistic despite loss

Brunei Barracudas coach Ozell Wells (R) speaking to Chris Commons during one of their training sessions. Wells is optimistic that the Barracudas will do well in this year's ABL season.Picture: BT/ Yee Chun Leong barracudas ozell wells (L) and Chris Commons (R)
Thursday, October 7, 2010

THERE was nothing but optimism in the Brunei Barracudas training camp at the Brunei Basketball Association (BBA) court in Batu Bersurat yesterday.

The Sultanate's first professional basketball team may have lost to the Philippine Patriots 62-71 last Sunday in their opening Asean Basketball League game at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City in the Philippines but they gave the defending champions a fright down the stretch, facing only a one point deficit with four minutes left to play in regulation.

Ozell Wells, the Barracudas head coach, has every reason to be satisfied with the team's performance with the second smallest losing margin on the Filipinos home floor, where they are unbeaten in all 12 of their games held there so far stretching from last season The team that came closest to beating the Patriots on their home floor were the KL Dragons who lost 70-76 in December last year.

Despite only being with the team for a mere over three weeks, Wells is expecting a great season ahead for the Barracudas over time.

'We have got the two most dominant international imports in the league,' said Wells, in an interview with The Brunei Times yesterday.

'But we need to work more against live bodies instead of our friends. The key is to treat games like practices and likewise the other way round,' he added.

'However, I'm satisfied with the team overall in the first game and some of the local players gave quality minutes. Xavier (Fong) handled the ball like a point guard at times and Esmond (Tan) hit a three-pointer within 30 seconds being in the game. (Hj Md) Badri (Hj Suhaili) got it going early on as well,' continued Wells

'But they gave the same level of energy as the imports and these are the intangibles that don't make it to the stats sheet,' said the former Trinidad and Tobago coach.

Nonetheless, the Barracudas will stand a chance for revenge against the Patriots in front of the home crowd next Saturday at the Brunei Indoor Stadium of the Hassanal Bolkiah National Sports Complex and Wells is positive for a win.

'We'll have to beat them when we meet again. I'm a coach that will make adjustments and this time we have another point guard (Ramsey Williams) who can get Commons and Garnett to do more. In our loss, Commons had to play the point guard position at times which really lessens the effectiveness of the group as our playmaker (Kevin White) didn't bring the ball up,' said the 33-year-old American.

With this in mind, Wells made a bold prediction which showed his belief and confidence in his players and the Barracudas management.

'We'll meet them (Patriots) in the final,' he said.

Garnett was the leading scorer for the Barracudas in the loss against the Patriots with 23 points and nine rebounds despite joining the team two days before the match.

Plenty can be expected from the centre with Barracudas owner, Nadzaty Azma Azeez, giving the 6ft 11in American a nickname as 'Monstar'.

'It is all good but I'm trying to get more sleep as I'm still tired from the jet lag. It is really hot and humid here and I've to try to drink more water,' said Garnett, who arrived in Brunei for the first time on Tuesday.

Filipino-American Ramsey Williams is the newest addition to the team replacing compatriot Kevin White in the point-guard position. It was his first training session with the team and things are looking up for the 30-year-old.

'I'm just getting to know all the players and the place as well. It's alright so far as the weather is the same as in the Philippines so adjusting to it is good,' said Williams.

This is not the first time that the Filipino-American is in the Sultanate having competed in the 2008 Brunei Cup for the Quezon Red Oilers. The 30-year-old joined the Philippine Basketball League (PBL) in 2005 before going to Liga Filipinas in 2007 and played for Air21 Express in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) last season.

Meanwhile, the Barracudas management would also like to thank Queenielin Enterprise and Soon Lee Heavy Machinery Services for their sponsorships to the team as well.

The Barracudas next test will be against the Thailand Slammers this Saturday at 8pm at the Nimibutr Indoor Stadium in Bangkok.

The Brunei Times

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