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Brunei Barracudas to Borneo Barracudas? - Mar 9, 2011


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Brunei Barracudas to Borneo Barracudas?


Go west: ABL may move Brunei Barracudas to Miri.

THE Brunei Barracudas may soon go west and be known as the Borneo Barracudas.

The Sultanate stands to lose its first professional basketball team to Malaysian neighbours Miri or Kota Kinabalu should no form of support is received by the Barracudas in the next two months.

Group Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of ABL's title sponsor AirAsia Datuk Sri Tony Fernandes told the Press on Friday night that the lack of support from the government and private sector might force the Barracudas to 'migrate' to Malaysia.

Fernandes gave this ultimatum during the Asean Basketball League (ABL) 2010/11 Award Night held at the Empire Hotel in Subang, Malaysia, on Friday.

'The ABL has had a phenomenal two years and one of the saddest things for me is the lack of support from Brunei corporates and the government,' Fernandes told reporters.

'I think they should get involved because it is good for the sport and the country. I think it's tough for Nadzaty (Azma Azeez, the Barracudas owner) to survive without sponsors or support because she can't just depend on ticket revenues,' he added during an interview with the Brunei media.

'So we'll have to look for other alternatives and one suggestion is to move the team from Brunei to Malaysia: either to Miri (in Sarawak), Kota Kinabalu or even Kuching. 'Well that's an idea we've put forward and it is up to Nadzaty and the owners to decide. But, before any decision is taken, I really hope that someone in Brunei can step forward and help (the team),' added Fernandes.

The AirAsia CEO praised Nadzaty's efforts in promoting the Barracudas in the Sultanate saying that despite the 'very limited funds, knowledge and support, she has probably created the most successful sport franchise in Brunei with 2,000-3,000 people turning up every week to watch the team'.

'Of course, I would like the team to stay in Brunei, but I'm not going to let Nadzaty's hard work go to waste. If it is needed, we'll move the team like in America. Teams move sometimes and we'll move the Barracudas to Sabah or Sarawak. At least Brunei will be represented in the form of Borneo,' said Fernandes, who earlier said they were in talks with Sarawak Deputy Chief Minister I Tan Sri Dr George Chan Hong Nam regarding the project.

During the interview, the Seattle SuperSonics relocation to Oklahoma City for the 2008/09 National Basketball Association (NBA) was brought up as an example. Currently known as the Oklahoma City Thunder, the team's owners decided to move after failed efforts to persuade Washington government officials to provide funding.

The successful move made the Seattle Supersonics the third NBA franchise to relocate in the past decade.

'We'll give Nadzaty two months to try and put together something to keep the team in Brunei, but I have to say that it's disappointing. I think it will be very sad for the people in Brunei if the Barracudas move out of Bandar Seri Begawan into Miri, Kuching or Kota Kinabalu. We've received a lot of offers to take the team so she's done a good job. It's a shame she can't survive in her own country,' said Fernandes.

Nadzaty was also present during the dinner and spoke of the difficulties that had led to the decision.

'Well, it is very sad that there had been no support and sponsors in the two years. I also have problems getting players, because most of the Bruneian basketball players are working so they can only be with the team part-time,' explained the Barracudas owner.

'I can't even get practice court at night so my team have to practise during the day when my locals are not available. It is not a suprise that we are last in the league when at every practice session there are just five people, the five imports and maybe a couple of locals.

'I literally begged the association (Brunei Darussalam Basketball Association) to let me use the court for practice sessions at night but it said no. There's just no support,' added Nadzaty.

Asked how Brunei fans would react to the news, Nadzaty shrugged and said: 'I don't know. Hopefully someone will come out and back us up. We're trying to create something for Bruneians, another avenue for their career, instead of just academically they can go into sports.'
The Brunei Times
  




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