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The return of Brunei's prodigal cager

IS IT finally going to happen?

Esmond Tan revealed to The Brunei Times last July that chances of him making it into the national basketball team were slim from the start due to his personal commitments.

The national basketball coach Kevin Reece had left the door open for players to join his training scheme to be selected to the squad and Tan was one who failed to comply.

But now the 26-year-old will finally lace up and start off his new year with a bang by joining in the national training next week.

'I think I'll be back to training with the national team starting this Monday. I'm really looking forward to training this year. However, it will be a big commitment,' said Tan, during an interview with The Brunei Times, yesterday.

'But it is up to the coach to decide if it's acceptable for me to train two weeks each month,' he added.

Tan is an employee with Brunei Shell Petroleum and is required to work offshore two weeks before returning to land.

'I want to be back like the old days and get fit once again. I believe that I have been slacking quite a lot compared to few years back due to work commitments,' he said.

Reece had mentioned that the motto in the new year for the national team was '15-strong' whereby only the best 15 would be selected and he would develop these players.

The competition at the camp is high and a place in the national team will not be a breeze for Tan, who is arguably the best cager in the country, but he is ready to take up the challenge.

'I'm going to train as much as I can and hopefully it won't be too tough for me to cope with. I know that I'm going to have to fight for it and I'm never going to give up,' said Tan.

If Tan were to make it into the national squad then he would be considered the 'old man' of the team considering the youth of the roster.

Tan's move forward to join in the training shows that he is far from being a disappointment to the country.

Tan was one of the four local cagers - Benjamin Lim, Hj Md Badri Hj Suhaili and Lim Aik Hock - who quit the Barracudas last month. Nadzaty Azma Azeez, the owner of the Barracudas, then labelled them as 'unprofessional' and branded the four as a 'disappointment to the country'.

Hj Md Badri and Aik Hock have trained with Reece before while Benjamin might follow in Tan's footsteps in the near future.

'I'm back into my business and picking up from where I left off before joining the Barracudas. Regarding about the national team, I'm not too sure because it all depends on my business schedule,' said Benjamin.

'With the current national training programme from what I heard, it requires a big commitment,' he added.

'As of now, E Fu (Aik Hock) and I are trying to keep ourselves in shape by playing pickup ball with friends at the BBA court,' he continued.

Benjamin also set a target for himself in the new year to become one of the best in the country as well,' said Benjamin.

'My target is to try to challenge Esmond, who I consider the best basketball player in the country right now. Also, I've to keep a competitive edge over players like Badri who is working really hard.'
Courtesy of The Brunei Times

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