The ASEAN Basketball League (ABL) is hours away from it’s debut with the Hi-Tech Bangkok City hosting Westports Malaysia Dragons. Thank the founders of Youtube, the inventors of the internet, and the ABL for making it possible for me to be able to watch the game live from my room in Vietnam.
The roster for the Hi-Tech Bangkok City team were announced a couple of days ago. As much as I would have enjoyed a team that combined the top-talent from all the clubs in Thailand, I think that Hi-Tech fielded a really talented roster nonetheless.
The roster is built up mainly from the Chonburi Hi-Tech team and sprinkled a bit with some players from Thai General Equipment. Chonburi Hi-Tech are currently 10-2 in the league, good for first place (owning a point differential tie-breaker against Nakhon Pathom Mad Goats). They are not the leaders in Points Scored (85.42 ppg, 3rd best), Points Allowed (66.0 ppg, 3rd Best), or Point Differential (19.42 diff, 2nd best) but from those numbers, you can see that they are the most balanced.
Most of the basketball fans who are familiar with the TBL will have already known most of the Thai Local Players on this roster already. As for myself, for having spent quite some time following the TBL this year, I have gotten to know a little bit about the Thai Local players already. However, the foreigners are still a bit of a mystery.
Standing Tall and Talented
I did not start writing this blog to show all the readers that I know more than they do. This blog is my own personal learning experience which I want to share with each and every one of the readers. I just wanted to point that out before I make the following statement: I didn’t know who Chris Charles was.
For those who were regular viewers of the the Sport Rev Thailand Slammers and the ABL, you will know that Charles was 2013’s ABL Defensive Player of the Year (leading the league at a blistering 4.11 blocks per game and second in rebounding at 14.5). You will also know that he was 2013’s ABL World Import Player of the Year.
If you asked me a couple of months prior who Chris Charles was, I would have been stuck at guessing which channel he was a sports reporter for. That is the thing, I knew nothing about Chris Charles then. Now, armed with the unlimited power of the internet, I have become more knowledgeable.
I learned that Chris Charles was the first commit to Villanova under the reigns of Jay Wright (aka George Clooney of College Basketball).
I had started following College Basketball religiously by Chris Charles senior year, when the four headed guard line up of Randy Foye, Mike Nardi, Allen Ray, and Kyle Lowry terrorized back courts all over the country. Jay Wright ran that 4 guard line up and it pretty much worked, with all of those guy scoring in double digits despite none being taller than 6-4. I guess Charles didn’t really quite fit in that kind of system being the lone seven-footer on that team. I never quite got to see what Chris Charles was all about.
Digging into more research, I got to know more about Chris Charles in the ABL. I got to know how lucky the Slammers were last year when they almost whiffed out on signing Charles through some miscommunication. I got to know that Charles is best friends with Denver Nuggets shooting guard, Randy Foye.
If you want a more detailed story of how Charles got to the ABL, it is already well written here.
Charles has a twitter account going by the name of ChrisConsin which is so awesome I haven’t figured out why no one has ever thought of that twitter handle. I feel like his tweets should be epic and if you ever get to read this Chris, please accept me as a follower.
The most epic thing about Chris Charles was his Youtube Channel. Thank the Internet Gods for this Youtube Video of Chris Charles roaming Bangkok.
As a Thai, it is just refreshing to see a foreigner genuinely enjoying our country as much as we do.
Shake it Chris.
You Shall Not Pass
Hi-Tech Bangkok City’s second import player is Steven Thomas. Thomas was the 2012’s ABL Defensive Player of the Year, so if you’re keeping count, that means Bangkok City will have two of most recent Defensive players of the year patrolling their paint. As the season progresses on, I think we will be able to see how much of an impact these two have on opponent’s scoring.
Thomas recently played for the Indonesia Warriors that won the ABL title two years ago and was runner-up last year. If you remember that Chris Charles averaged the second most rebounds in the league and wondered who led that race, you won’t have to look far. Thomas led the ABL with 14.7 rebounds per game last season to go along with 16.3 points.
It took a while for me to find other information about Thomas, but the first video that comes up on a Youtube search is a clip of KL Dragon’s Kwan Yoong Jing hitting Steve Thomas in the nuts. I don’t know about you, but from the first second I saw Thomas’ profile picture and his mean scowl, I made sure that he would almost be on the top of my list of guys to avoid hitting balls at all costs (For your curiosity, the honor of the top of that list goes to Ron Artest/Metta World Peace. Not only does he seem super strong, but you can never guess what he will do in retaliation).
I got a second video of an interview with Steve Thomas during his stint with the Indonesia Warriors as seen here:
You actually get to learn a lot of personal stuff about Thomas from the clip, who suddenly seems like a really kind uncle more than his scowls suggests.
Things I picked up from this video:
- If I had one chance to guess who Thomas’ favorite player was or else a unicorn would stab me repeatedly with its horn, I would survive. Apart from his mean scowls and his dedication to defense, Thomas even looks a bit like his idol, Kevin Garnett.
- I love that one question where he is asked what he does when he isn’t playing basketball. He answers that he eats a lot and the interviewer’s follow up question kind of gave the feeling they wanted something about his sex life. Or maybe it’s just me.
And finally, Youtube gives us gold again with this clip of Steven Thomas, the singer, covering Whitney Houston’s “I will always love you”.
Prepare to be touched.
Croon me into your arms, Steve Thomas.
The last import is
the regional import, Jerick Canada. Jerick was a back up point guard for the same team as Steve Thomas for the past two seasons. Jerick is known around the league as Jerick “Speedy Gonzalez” Canada (which is pronounced ken-ya-da. I find that very disappointing somehow) for his phenomal speed, which he uses to zip around other players as displayed in this clip:
Jerick’s signing might not have been as exciting as the other two guys mentioned above, I think in part of his complicated situation. Canada has a chance to play in the Philippines Basketball Association (PBA) which guarantees a longer and stable contract than that of the ABL, if he can get drafted in the expansion draft coming up on 18th July. However, it seems like the Hi-Tech Bangkok City team has agreed to have a release clause if Canada indeed gets called up to the PBA. That seems very generous and thoughtful of the Bangkok City team, but I have to wonder if having a player whose status with the team is quite uncertain will have any affect on the team building going on through the season.
Questions to be answered
1. How well will the Imports mesh with the Local players?
For Chris Charles, it should not be a problem any longer having played with the team since last year already. However, the Duo from Indonesia will probably need some time to gel with the Thailand culture and our style of play. Vice versa, the Locals will need to learn to mix and match and be ready to absorb another style from Thomas and Canada.
2. How well will the Imports mesh along themselves?
Canada and Thomas are well-acquainted among themselves. What I am worried about is the dynamics of Charles and Thomas. Both are known to be intense defenders and it should potentially shut out the offense, but having two intense defenders in the paint may lead to excessive fouls and excessive frustration. There are rumors that Thomas and Charles had some beef coming over from last season. Alas, these are just purely speculations, but let’s see how it all progresses when it’s game time.
If Bangkok City can answer these questions positively, we might see them running through the ABL.
As the ABL season starts and continues on, these questions will be answered. I feel blessed to be in the process to witness these questions being raised up until the moment they are answered.
I am so more than excited for the ABL season to start.
How are you feeling Chris Charles?