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 1 Khovd AA 11-4 
 2 Uvurkhangai 11-4 
 3 Arhangai Altan 10-4 
 4 Sukhbaatar 8-6 
 5 Hentiy 3-12 
 6 Bayankhongor 1-14 


Mongolian Basketball (Men)

USA coach looking to turn Mongolia into a basketball powerhouse - Mar 24, 2014

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Journeyman American coach Alan Walls did not hesitate when he received a phone call from the Mongolian Basketbal Association (MBA). With coaching experience in the US, Mexico, South America, Europe, Africa and China, he seized at once the opportunity to lead the development of Mongolian basketball and become the head coach of the country's national teams. After his first five months in the capital city of Ulan Bator, coach Walls shared with Asia-Basket his first thoughs on Mongolian basketball and its future.

What has been your first impression of Mongolian basketball?

The first thing I noticed is that Mongolians love basketball. They love to play it, watch it in person as well as on TV and talk about it on social media. Their passion for the game is very similar to that of the Philippines. They follow the NBA intently and are just as educated about the league and its players as American fans are. On the court, their strength is the quickness of their guards and their weakness is in the post, as is the case with most Asian countries. Mongolian post players in the professional league top out at about 1.98M. The guards love to play up-tempo basketball and get out and run in transition.
The biggest weakness overall is the low level of coaching. You can only teach what you know and what you have been taught. There currently does not exist a regular system for educating the coaches and raising their level of basketball IQ which will then increase the level of play of the players on all levels. That is my main mission here and that of the Mongolian Basketball Association (MBA); improving the training of the coaches and increasing their knowledge of the game.

Mongolia's men national team has won only two official games in 50 years of history. How are you going to make it competitive on an international scale?

It all comes down to resources, organization, planning and coaching. The current men national team has some very talented players. I think there are at least two that could play on the lower USA NCAA Div. I level and the rest on the DII level.

We at the MBA really need to raise the level of resources (financial and facilities), organization, planning and coaching and the victories in international competition will follow. This summer we will participate in the Asian Games in Incheon, Korea and the goal of the mens team is to advance to the second round. On the women side, we are looking to just win one game and go from there. For 2015, the MBAs goals are to qualify both the men and women teams for the FIBA Asia Champions, which would be a first for both.

The only pro-league in the city country recently concluded. Over the years it has gained momentum as an increasing number of US players joined local teams. Is this a chance for Mongolian players to raise the level of their game?

The level of imports in the league has increased every year which is great for the league, the domestic players and the fans. The only way to get better is to compete on a regular basis against and beside better players. The Mongolian players are challenged by the import players to raise their level if they want to compete in the league. That will only make them better and more competitive players which will in turn pay dividends for the national team.

Which local players positively impressed you the most?

I have been impressed with many of the Mongolian players and look forward to coaching them on the national team. Three of the top players that have stood out to me and will be major forces for the nation team for at least the next five years or so are: Bilgunn B. and Sanchir T., both playing for the 2013-14 Super League Champions SBL team and Odbayar B. of the Hawks. Bilgunn is a 1.98m wing player that can attack the basket, shoot from beyond the 3pt line and loves to get out in transition. He reminds me a lot of Kevin Durant and he was named MVP of the Super League this year.
Sanchir is a scoring machine similar to a younger Dwayne Wade. He was one of the top scorers in the Super League with many 30+point games. At the 2013 East Asia Basketball Association Championships he averaged 25.7 ppg with 39 vs. Hong Kong and 30 vs. Chinese Taipei. At the 2013 Summer Universiade in Russia he averaged 20.8 ppg including 33 in a win over Japan, 27 vs. Germany, 26 against Czech Republic, 25 vs. Romania and 21 in a win over the Philippines. At the 2013 East Asian Games he averaged 20.5 ppg with 28 vs. Chinese Taipei and 23 vs. South Korea.
Odbayar is a beast in the post, though undersized for international competition at 1.98M. He makes up for his lack of height in the paint with his strenght, intensity, and desire. He has some solid post moves, can finish with contact and is a rebounding machine. He reminds me a lot of NBA legend Charles Barkley.

Most of local teams play 3/2 zone defense and seldom run any offensive plays. Is this just a cultural issue or there is still a gap to be filled on the coaching side?

Both. As I mentioned earlier, you can only teach what you know and what you have been taught or learned on your own. It seems like playing the 3/2 zone is a national law here. I think some successful coaches started using it years ago and all other coaches just followed. Zone is easy to play and therefore easy to coach, or so many think.
Part of my mission to improve the coaching is to teach the coaches a variety of ways to play and teach defense, especially man-to-man defense. I will teach them the different tactics and strategies for playing each type of defense and when to use each type based on their teams make-up and that of their opponents.

You are also leading a number of initiatives to develop local young talents. Can you give us some more insights on it?

I have brought with me a lot of ambitious ideas to implement with the MBA to develop both players and coaches over the next two years. I was able to secure Mongolias first invitation to the FIBA/NBA Basketball Without Borders Asia Camp in 2014 for the countrys top U17 male player and one coach, all expenses covered.
We plan to start a system of basketball training academies throughout the country called the Blue Wolves Basketball Schools where players and coaches can train and coach following an organized curriculum.
In November of 2013 we started the first true university league, the Mongolian Collegiate Basketball Association, with 32 mens teams and 16 womens teams. Over a six-month period a total of 562 games will be played making it the largest league in the countrys history. This league will go a long way in developing players, coaches, referees and administrators.
In January of this year, the MBA entered into a cooperation agreement with the Ulan Bator Provincial Sports Department to assist with the running of the Students League (ages 9-18). The MBA will assist with the competitions and I will conduct monthly clinics for the leagues coaches. The boys and girls champions of the 16-18 age group will advance to compete in Russia in their national championships that take place in May.
Another major project I am working one right now is the formation of Mongolias first basketball coaches association. On Saturday, March 15 the Mongolian Association of Basketball Coaches was formed after a two-hour clinic I conducted and a selection of leaders for the association. The purpose of the association is to unify all coaches and provide coaches of all levels regular training through camps and clinics conducted by both national and international coaches. All national team coaches will now be chosen from the membership roster of the MABC.   

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