Friday, January 19, 2007

Maba Tall Talent search appear to bear fruit


THE search for towering talent, ordered by the Malaysian Basketball
Association (Maba) president Datuk Loke Yuen Yow in 1995, is only the tip
of the iceberg in Maba's development plans.
Loke subscribes to the belief that the taller the team, the better the
chances of winning.
After Malaysia came short in the 13th Asian Junior Championships in
Manila and the Angsapura International in Medan in 1995, Loke concluded
that the Malaysians, while holding their own in skills and team tactics,
lost ground when it came to height.
"That is why the president came up with the Tall Talent programme to add
the extra inches to the national team," said Maba chairman of the coaches
committee Wee Cheong Phor.
The programme kicked off with Maba requesting their affiliates to comb
every corner of their respective states to come up with `skyscrapers', and
even those who have not played basketball before were listed as
"Once the states and districts come up with a list, with the height
criterium being 195cm for boys and 183cm for girls born in 1975 and
fluctuates with the year of birth, the affiliates will nurture these
potentials by providing systematic training under qualified coaches," said
As a result of the biennial search, a total of 106 districts have
selected a large number of `giants' for Malaysia and for every talent
discovered, a bonus of RM100 is given - up to a maximum of RM300 - and
should the talent make the national junior or senior squad, the said
official would be further rewarded.
"This is when Maba steps in, we select the cream of the crop and house
them at selected special training centres like the Maba hostel in Kuala
Lumpur where they undergo trials."
Those who don't make the cut are sent home, because Maba only want the
best while those who make it to the Malaysian Basketball League (MBL) are
strong candidates for the national team.
"Right now, players like K. Satyaseelan and Fadlisham Ismail are some of
Tall Talent graduates that have made it into the senior squad and we have
a large pool on standby," said Wee.
At the Maba house, the cagers undergo a spartan life where they start
with exercises before attending school. After school, the cagers head for
the courts and this is a daily affair.
"The process is long and lengthy but one day we hope to discover someone
like `Mr Ri', a seven-foot-nine marvel from North Korea who has attracted
the attention of NBA scouts.