The Big Brother of Hi-Tech Bangkok City is back!
The BTSL is an acronym for Basketball Thailand Super League which is a league where the top five teams in Thailand go up head to head in in a double round robin season without playoffs to determine who is the best of the super teams in Thailand. The top 3 teams of the BTSL will then quality for the international round which will consist of 3 teams from Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines. Each team is limited to 1 import, and here we shall take a look at each one of those imports.
Being luckily work-based in Vietnam and access to convinient accommodation in Singapore and Malaysia, I was able to be around with the Hi-Tech Bangkok City ABL Team quite a lot. Not only was the privilege to be almost courtside at all those ABL matches worthwhile, I also got to hang out with the players after games as well.
You can watch videos and replay tapes all you want, but to understand the actual structure of a team, you have to be able to see how they are off the court.
Many off the court tangents factored into Hi-Tech Bangkok City’s run to the ABL Championship title, but one of the most notable to me was Hi-Tech’s import player for the BTSL, Steve Demon Thomas.
Let’s get the accolades out of the way first. Steve Thomas is a four time ABL Finalist and a two time champion. Big Bro knows how to win. He was a defensive player of the year two seasons ago in the ABL as well.
He averaged 13.59 points and 13.73 rebounds per game last season. His 2.32 assists per game were the most among big men, which continues to be one of the most underrated aspects of his game.
His 20.6 Rebounding% is 4th highest in the ABL as well.
This is a guy who can make the midrange jumpshot, post up down low, grab rebounds, and pass efficiently. Steve Thomas was one of the most complete players in the ABL last season, and that surely helped Hi-tech a lot as an adhesive on a team full of specialists.
But let’s look away from the numbers. Look away from the hardwood. You look at Steve and you see this big guy with a mean mug who I once quoted “would almost be on the top of my list of guys to avoid hitting balls at all costs“.
If anything, he is far from that kind of person.
My first engagement off the court with Steve was while I was working on some photoshop edits for the Hi-Tech Basketball team. I had photoshopped the pictures of the players that were caught sleeping in the infamous “Bangkok City Blues”.
Later on, I would find out that Steve would be the guy who kept pranking all these guys and via a couple of connections, we talked on the phone and agreed to meet next time they played in Vietnam.
I got to learn that he is the ultimate Glue Guy, the ideal Locker Room guy. He connects with everyone from the star players to the benchwarmers to the physical trainers to the club owner. Everyone loves being around him and even some guys who aren’t fluent in English, enjoy conversing with him nonetheless.
My ultimate favorite moment with Steve Thomas was while we were soaking up a couple of cold beers, I got to talk about his underrated passing and that’s when he replied to me:
“You know what, man? I could be out there night in and night out looking to score 30 points a game, taking a shot each time I get the ball. But that ain’t fun. If I do that, I’m not having fun, my team mates aren’t having fun, and the coaches aren’t having fun. I’m playing basketball to have fun.”
That’s just a winner in the books for me.
Steve offers that kind of veteran grit and style for Hi-tech which are starting to go through a generation changing phase. The down side is that he is almost 34 already and his body has been through a lot of wear and tear, so physically, Hi-Tech should not look forward to depend on him too much, especially with the younger imports on the other teams. Thomas looked winded when he played in long stretches in the ABL last season and now Hi-Tech do not have the advantage of switching between him and Chris Charles anymore.
Look for Steve to be a leader on this team as the grouping point for this young Hi-Tech team as he looks to add another win to his long resume.
All photos used are taken by KukThew. To enjoy more of her marverlous basketball picture, click here.