SEA Games Preview: Winged Elephants

As some of you might know, Thailand will be participating in the SEA (South East Asian) Games this coming 5th-16th of June, which will be held at Singapore.

While I know that most of you will be pumped to watch Wushu and Pencak Silat, I need to remind you that there will also be basketball!

สำหรับภาษาไทย อ่านต่อได้ ที่นี่

Thailand will be sending their Men’s Basketball team as well, after their baffling disappearing act from the SEABA Championship during late April at Singapore (I still think the ASEAN Community deserves an explanation WHY Thailand didn’t field a team to defend their 2013 First place standing this year).

The 15 man roster was released earlier this year and the National Team had started practicing since then. On the 12th of May, the final cut 12 man roster has been released.

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Attaporn Lertmalaiporn (CAPTAIN)
Sukdave Ghogar
Wattana Suttisin
Wuttipong Dasom
Darongphun Apiromwilaichai
Darunphong Apiromwilaichai
Ratdech Kruatiwa
Chanachon Klahan
Kannut Samerjai
Danai Kongkum
Theerawat Chantajon
Nattakarn Meungboon

Let’s break it down by position:
We will be using a more simple Guard, Wing, Inside player approach in this breakdown.

Guards

Nattakarn Meungboon/Kannut Samerjai/Darunphong Apiromwilaichai

guards

You could make a case that Darongphun and Wattana might be spending some of their time at the lead guard position, but for the majority of the tournament, these will be Thailand’s main men running the offense. I like the combo of Nattakarn and Kannut here because I feel like they will be a nice change of tempo from each other.

Nattakarn is the Lead guard for the Nakhon Pathom Madgoats who played at a tournament leading pace in the BTSL International Round so he should be used to pushing the tempo, while doing it calmly. Judging by the players that made the cut, Thailand will have to run and run fast to be effective in this tournament.

Kannut on the other hand is more like a wild card on the offense. He is a very imaginative player but he played in a slow-paced offense with the Mono Vampires, so if Thailand needs to change things up or throw out a curveball, Kannut can do that.

Both are good passers, as they were among the top 10 in assists per game in the BTSL international round. Kannut posted an impressive 22.67% assist rate and while Nattakarn posted only 14.95%, it must be noted that he had been accepting a bigger scoring role in that tournament as well.
What is alarming is Kannut’s 28.15% Turnover rate. As I’ve mentioned, he is a wildcard and we don’t know exactly how wild he can get.

Note that I have yet to mention Darunphong Apiromwilaichai. He is the twin of recent BTSL International Round MVP, Darongphun Apiromwilaichai, but both play different styles. Darongphun, “Palm”, is more aggressive in attacking the basket while Darunphong, “Poy” is more passive.
Darunphong did have a unbelieveable 5.5 assist/turnover ratio in the TBL2014, turning the ball over only 4 times in 9 games. These were in limited minutes and we an only speculate how significant this information is.

The point guard position will be VERY crucial in this SEA Games. Contenders Philippines, Singapore, and Malaysia were seen pressing the opposing guards heavily throughout the entire game and but I trust Nattakarn, Kannut, and Darunphong to be able to break the press.

Wings

Attaporn Lertmalaiporn/Wattana Suttisin/Wuttipong Dasom/Darongphun Apiromwilaichai/Ratdech Kruatiwa

wings

This is where Thailand will be pressuring their opponents. In my honest opinion, Thailand has the best collection of wing players in Southeast Asia with the exception of Philippines (they are on another level). This collection of 5 very different players are going to be something that the opposing teams will have to constantly adapt their defensive schemes to.

Ratdech is the ultimate isolation option when you really need a basket. He didn’t have a good BTSL international Round as a whole, but he had a good Finals game. But the guy just had his first-born baby! He’s going to be a bit tired from that for sure, but he’s still my first option to throw the ball to if I need a quick score in a tight game.

Wattana Suttisin is my second option on that list, and it’s actually a closer race than you might think. He lacks the bells and whistles of ball handling, but when it comes to scoring, he gets to the point effectively. I’ve been repeating how awesome he was in the ABL when scored with the efficiency at the same level of projected No.1 PBA draft pick, Moala Tautua’a, and Vietnam star, David Viet Arnold. He might seem a bit wild and erratic as seem from his high turnover rate (20.2%) but that’s only because he consistently attacking the basket all the time.

Darongphun was THE most effective scorer in the TBL2014, posting a ridiculous 62% TrueShooting Percentage. His game is about getting Free Throws and scoring close to the basket, which slightly resembles a James Harden type of player that doesn’t shoot threes. In the International Round of the BTSL, Darongphun shifted into a more distributing role where he led the tournament with 30.7% assist rate and was 4th with an assist/turnover ratio of 2.83. He certainly can get the job done.

The fact that Wuttipong Dasom’s offense revolves solely around athleticism has been covered thoroughly. While he is amazing on the fastbreak and when he get a clear path to the hoop, he still struggles at creating his own shot and shooting in general.
Since the ABL, he has been shooting between 18%-22% from the three-point line, yet he is taking an about 2 shots a game from that range. Some open shots are there because they are giving it to him. Take away all of his three-point shot attempts and makes, and he would blow Justin Knox’s league high eFG% (56%) out of the water (65%).
I’m not saying he has to throw away his three-point shooting completely, but the coaching staff has to find away to not set him up in a position to get those open looks. I wish I had the defensive On/Off rating to support the following statement, but I don’t. And I don’t care, I’m going to throw this out there anyways. Dasom is one of the best defenders in Thailand and that will be his calling card. I look forward to seeing him guard the likes of Ivan Yeo, Bobby Ray Parks, and the occasional Wong Wei Long match-up.

Finally, the wing is complete with the veteran presence of the Captain, Attaporn Lertmalaiporn. His better days are past him and his presence on this team will seemingly be more of a leadership role than anything else on this squad. He can still hit the occasional three-point shot (39% clip from the ABL is not shabby) but his game has been quite limited as of recently. His locker room presence is unable to quantify however, and that’s where he will be most valuable to this team.

With three tall wings, I’d like to see Thailand try to run with a 4-out-1-in set up for most of the tournament. Their strength will be based on how much they get out of their wing players and how they mix and match it up with this unique group.

Big Men

Sukdave Ghogar/Danai Kongkum/Chanachon Klahan/Theerawat Chantajon

bigmen

Thailand has 4 players to mix it up inside, yet none of them really possess great size. What these players do have going for them is their speed. Sukdave and Danai should be used to playing the quick 4 position alongside bigger imports Steve Thomas and Michael Fey in domestic leagues. Both of them are quick in the post and have a nice spin move in their arsenal. They even have a decent mid-range shot to go with it. But they aren’t going to be consistently backing anyone down in the post. Unlike the wing position, most of the skills that these post players have to offer overlap each other a lot, so Thailand won’t be having much variety down low.

They have one elite level rebounder in Sukdave (ABL Local leading 12.3% rebounding percentage) but the rest of the crew are lacking a bit here and there. Danai is a bit thin to bang bodies. Chanachon looks like he’s lost a step or two. Theerawat has the body and the physical tools, but he’s depending on his athleticism too much at this point.

Last but not least is the interior defense. This won’t be a problem against the lower tier teams, but in the middle tier (Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia) it might start to hurt a bit. These teams have big bodies to throw at Thailand. The Top Tier (Philippines) has 6-11 Marcus Douthit, 6-8 and WIDE Norbert Torres, Arnold Van Opstal, AND Troy Rosario. With the current inside lineup, that might be a bit hard to overcome.

OVERALL PERCEPTION:

Like most teams in the ASEAN community, Thailand will be heavily perimeter orientated most likely due to the fact that we never evolved to having bigger bodies. Among the 2nd tier, which team’s big men steps up the most will probably have the most success in the SEA Games and will be in cracking distance of the Philippines.
The wings will be the point which Thailand should focus and execute their offense on. The level of talent, quantity, and variety as a whole will be hard to match up.
The guard play will be crucial as long as Thailand can continuously break the press which shouldn’t be much of a problem. It might be a bit concerning that Thailand’s two main point guards will have a combined 2 broken wrists among them this past year.

If they win, it’ll be because of their strong wing play.
If the bigs play well, they will get a huge advantage.
And if they lose, it’ll be because the guards couldn’t handle the half-court pressure.

CHANGES I WOULD MAKE:

With the resources I have on the wings, I would try to run a small ball, 4-out-1-in line up for as long as I possibly can. Wuttipong, Ratdech, and Attaporn can all spend some time as a small ball four and Danai is already a natural small ball 4 himself.
I’d have to cut Chanachon. He’d be stuck behind the rotation and he’s more suited to a half court game.
I’d miss out on his role as an agitator but then again, we aren’t trying to grind anyone out with this line up. We want to run them out of the gym.
This leads to my second cut, Darunphong.
If we are to run a 4-in-1-out line up, we are going have to press and run. I’d rather have jitterbug point guard who can run and run and run while be able to annoy the hell out of opposing guards on defense as well. Darunphong just isn’t that.
Cutting these two off, I need two more to fill their spots.
One easy pick is adding Tawatchai Suktub to the 12 man roster. He is a hard-working, tough, rugged, forward. He is a very efficient scorer (65% TrueShooting in the TBL2014, 57% in the BTSL International Round) with a variety of inside outside skill set.

jeng

My second replacement pick was a pretty tricky one. I was torn between Sorot Sunthornsiri/ Suchon Maithumpitak/Kannawat Lertlaokul. All of them are speedsters and pesky on defense. I had to cut Kannawat out because he is still nursing a knee injury which doesn’t look to be getting better. He’s also been playing non-stop since the TBL, ABL, Division 1, and BTSL. I needed some fresher legs for this.
Left between two youngsters, I decided to NOT pick up TBL2014 Local MVP, Sorot Sunthornsiri, and chose Suchon Maithumpitak instead. Sorot is a hell of a scoring guard and very quick, but at this point of the roster, I want a third string guard who is used to sparkplugging the offense (Suchon) and not someone who is used to running the show for the entire game (Sorot).

chon

All of these selections are made out of my own personal perception of how I would run this national team based on the roles that are laid out. This is not me saying “THIS IS THE BEST VERSION OF THE THAILAND NATIONAL TEAM AND THIS IS HOW WE SHOULD BE DOING IT”.

This is just me playing around with my thoughts.

NOTE: EVERYTHING MENTIONED ABOVE IS MORE OR LESS OPINIONATED AS THERE AREN’T COMPLETE STATS AND THE STATS I HAVE ARE OF A VERY SMALL SAMPLE SPACE.

The SEA Games will be held in Singapore from 5-16 June. Basketball will be played from 9-15 with the Semis on the 14th and the Finals on the 15th. The games will be played at OCBC Arena and will be live fed via Youtube.

See you there.

National Team

For Previews of the other teams participating in the SEA Games 2015, read on at the following links:

Philippines
Malaysia
Singapore

10 thoughts on “SEA Games Preview: Winged Elephants

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