With a fresh input of funds and resources, Cambodias national basketball team still search for international competitions to see how they stand in the region
For the first time in years, the Cambodian Basketball Federation (CBF) is making a concerted push for the mens national basketball team to be competitive. Now they just need to find a competition to play in.
In the past year, the federation has scoured Cambodia for young talent and funded a recruiting trip across the world to the US. However, with the cancellation of the basketball tournament in Decembers SEA Games in Laos, future international matches have yet to be arranged.
When Laos was named the host nation for the 2009 SEA Games last year, organisers quickly noted the lack of gymnasiums capable of hosting an international basketball tournament. Participating countries, along with sponsor country China, were unable to find a way to make the tournament happen.
At our second council meeting, we decided that we couldnt have basketball. We dont have the facilities, said Somphou Phongsa, the head of the administration and service committee for the SEA Games in Laos.
Austin Koledoye, head coach of the Cambodian national team for over two years, expressed his frustration over the situation. We dont have the money to travel to other countries, and we dont really have the facilities to host the wealthier countries, he said. What are we supposed to do?
In December 2008, Mak Chanphirun, captain of the 1998 Sisowath High School basketball squad and a current staff member at the National Assembly, was named the new secretary general of the CBF. Since then, the funding and resources that Koledoye has been longing for in his last four years as coach are finally beginning to emerge.
In February, the government paid for Koledoyes trip to the US, where he met with a dozen Cambodian-Americans, some playing at Division II universities. I was looking for players with height, he stated. We needed an enforcer, someone to go against teams like the Philippines.
National basketball coach Austin Koledoye is looking for international competitions.But all the coach found were guards, three of which tentatively agreed to make the monthlong excursion to Southeast Asia in order to train for and participate in the December SEA Games on the governments tab.
The CBA also searched for young talent at home, and found a 17-year-old wide-shouldered Khmer teenager from Prey Veng named Phal Sophors, who moved to Phnom Penh to train in May.
It wasnt his basketball skills that drew the attention of Mak Chanphirun and Koledoye, who spotted him playing at the annual National High School Basketball tournament in Battambang. It was his 1.9-metre stature.
He could hardly dribble on the first day, but hes getting a lot better. Playing basketball is the only thing he is here for, said Koledoye.
A year ago, Phal Sophors was living with his parents and eight siblings, spending his days studying and working in his familys rice fields. I played basketball at school and with my friends, but not every day, he admitted. Now, only two years after first picking up a basketball, he is living in Cambodias most populous city, sleeping in a small room in Olympic Stadium and practising for three hours a day with the countrys best ballers.
Still a teenager, Phal Sophors physical supremacy is obvious as soon as practice begins. No one on the team steps in front of his moves to the basket, and if they did, its unlikely that they would stop him from getting there.
His skills are underdeveloped compared with most of the players on the team, some of whom have been playing for 10 years, but he is the tallest player on the team with centimeters to spare and his aggression and hustle are relentless.
Like other athletes on Cambodias national sports teams, Phal Sophors receives a monthly salary of 250,000 riels (US$60) from the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, of which he sends half home to his parents. The ministry also provides athletes with three meals a day at the Borei Khmer Hotel. A larger monthly stipend was previously disbursed, but athletes were complaining of a lack of energy, so the officials decided to cut down on cash and guarantee a hearty diet of meat, rice and soup.
Despite improved resources and future promise, the national basketball team, made up mostly of university students, still has a way to go towards being a legitimate international competitor. Koledoye admits that they are years, perhaps decades, away from competing with the Philippines, who are the dominant basketball team in the region. We have to start from the ground up, but on the ground there is nothing, the coach remarked. The players have no one to challenge them to get better.
To fill the void, some of the citys better players who have not made national team selection will come to Olympic Stadium to join the scrimmage during the second half of the daily 5:30pm-7:30pm practice.
The practice venue, which is made available at no cost by the ministry, is hardly ideal in itself. The chequered hardwood floor is falling apart; many of the wooden squares are rotting or filled in with cement. There are scores of lighting fixtures on the ceiling, but only a dozen are turned on for practice, casting a dim yellow light on the floor.
The team has permission to use the court anytime it is available, but being one of the few indoor sports venues in the city, it is often in use by volleyball leagues, the Futsal federation or martial arts tournaments, leaving the national team with nowhere to go. A recent practice was cancelled after thunderstorms caused half of the players, who mostly travel by motorbike, to miss the session.
The national coach admits that there is no shortage of obstacles, but he is thrilled with the governments recent interest in basketball and the effort of his players. These guys are busting their butts out there. They just need competition, he said.
With a series of coaching clinics this month, Koledoye and Mak Chanphirun hope to bring basketball fundamentals to Cambodias youth through knowledgeable coaches. We are trying to make a difference in basketball in Cambodia, asserted the CBA official. Perhaps by the next time they have a competitive game, all this hard work will pay off.
ALLN Supermen win CBL Finals - 5 months ago
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ALLN Supermen win CBL Finals tonight. They overcame Extra Joss fighters 80-55 to end the fighters unbeaten run. In the game for the third place Bayon Airlines posted a 68-66 win over MSGM. Only due to the final 23-13 push in the last stanza, Bayon managed to seal the victory. Bayon Airlines won the Bronze medals. [read more]
ALLN Supermen win CBL Finals tonight. They overcame Extra Joss fighters 80-55 to end the fighters unbeaten run. In the game for the third place Bayon Airlines posted a 68-66 win over MSGM. Only due to the final 23-13 push in the last stanza, Bayon managed to seal the victory. Bayon Airlines won the Bronze medals.
The 2016 Cambodian Basketball League season reaches its thrilling climax on Saturday when the top-ranked Extra Joss Fighters and their arch-rivals ALLN Confucius Supermen square off in the title game at the Olympic Stadium Indoor Arena. Lively anticipation surrounds the 3pm tip-off as the Fighters carry to the floor the psychological advantage of having beaten the Supermen by a four-point margin in the round-robin stage. But it was the intensity of that game and its rousing finish that wi... [read more]
The 2016 Cambodian Basketball League season reaches its thrilling climax on Saturday when the top-ranked Extra Joss Fighters and their arch-rivals ALLN Confucius Supermen square off in the title game at the Olympic Stadium Indoor Arena. Lively anticipation surrounds the 3pm tip-off as the Fighters carry to the floor the psychological advantage of having beaten the Supermen by a four-point margin in the round-robin stage. But it was the intensity of that game and its rousing finish that will give the Supermen optimism. The Fighters enjoy the advantage of having had most of their squad together for the past three seasons, while the Supermen have drawn up their roster this season with players pulled together from different teams. In the Fighters' line-up, Stephen Siruma (188-G-86), Santos Jomar and Ken 'Black Mamba' Gadaffi were part of the losing CBL final side against the Mekong Tigers last season and will be hoping to go one better this time round. In the ALLN camp, Jeff Kane and Aimar Sabayo, who lead the charge for the Supermen, were in the roster of Alaxan Patriots, the winners of the inaugural edition. Going into the final, both teams look equally matched and how the coaches deploy the team and make use of their rotation could prove decisive. Fighters coach Oktavianus in the last couple of games has opted to use the Nigerian duo of Ken Gadaffi and Kelechi Njoku, along with Siruma Stephen, Jomar Santos and Jasper Serrano in his starting line-up, while Aimar Sabayo, Jonna Cunnaman, Sean Looney, Webb and Meng Hama are the preferred starters for ALLN. 'We are excited about the chance to be in the final. We have played all season without defeat but it comes to nothing if we lose again, so we want to give it our best and hopefully we can become champions,' Fighters coach Hauw said. ALLN Supermen manager Kenneth Kim said: 'Win or lose we will still be happy. If we win, we will be proud; if we lose, we will be happy to lose to a great team like EJF.' Meanwhile, Ken Gadaffi, who is one of the oldest players in the league at 46 and has seen it all from the start of the CBL, will be playing in his third final. 'I really don't know how it will go. It's a match that I believe the fans will be excited about, and they will be on the edge of their seats for the duration of the game. I want to win it,' Gadaffi said.'I hope we can be lucky this time and I can retire happy.' Before the grand finale, Bayon Airlines and MSGM Beast will play off for third place. Bayon pipped their rivals 74-73 the last time the two sides met. The stakes are much higher now and the game could produce another tight finish. Courtesy of: phnompenhpost.com
Extra Joss Fighters, ALLN book CBL Final Showdown - 5 months ago
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Extra Joss fighters and ALLN Confucius supermen as expected cruised into the Finals of the CBL with emphatic wins over MSGM and Bayon Airline Respectively on Saturday at the Indoor hall of the National Stadium. In the early kick off at 3pm, Fighters took the game to the Beast and drew the first blood instantly through enterprising Siruma Stephen after Kelechi Njoku won the tip off. From then they never looked back as they ended the first quarter 27-14. Beast star player Hong Kwan ( 24 poi... [read more]
Extra Joss fighters and ALLN Confucius supermen as expected cruised into the Finals of the CBL with emphatic wins over MSGM and Bayon Airline Respectively on Saturday at the Indoor hall of the National Stadium. In the early kick off at 3pm, Fighters took the game to the Beast and drew the first blood instantly through enterprising Siruma Stephen after Kelechi Njoku won the tip off. From then they never looked back as they ended the first quarter 27-14. Beast star player Hong Kwan ( 24 points) showed why he is one of the best in the league as he inspired the Beast back in the second quarter with several 3 pointers ( made 6 in all ) to end the first half 56-37. Fighters didnt take their foot off the pedal as they continued to attack the beast with Jomar Santos ( 18 points) and Kelechi Njoku ( 18 Points) the tormentor in chief. Fighters entire squad got on the score sheet to account for the over a century score to win the tie 113-76. ALLN were given a scare when Bayon Airlines restricted them to only 2 point lead at the end of the first half with scores at 27-24. The Dept in squad of the ALL proved pivotal as Bayon bench rotation couldn't step up after the half time tocontend with the Supermen thus giving Jonna Cunnaman ( 20 points) and Aimar Sabayo (188-C-87) ( 17 Points) the freedom to run riots under the basket. Despite Chhor 's bravery in competing for rebounds at both ends and making it a fight, with17 points, ALLN opened up the lead in the 3rd and and 4th quarter to finish the tie 75-59 to set up a final showdown with Extra Joss Fighters. The finals of the CBL will be held on October 15th with the 3rd place play off between Bayon Airlines and MSGM at 2pm before the championship match between Extra Joss Fighter and ALLN at 4pm. Courtesy of: talkmewo.tv
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