I have to admit first that the SEA Games Review is still in progress…but it’s been a jammed up period for myself and I haven’t found time to wrap all of that up.
BUT the Thailand Basketball League 2015 is here (I know it went through a lot of weird twists and turns to get here, but it’s here!).
The first games will be played on the 18th of July, and all teams will be strutting off their stuff.
The format is a simple Double round robin, 4 teams advance to playoffs so that shouldn’t be hard to wrap your head around. The playoffs will be best of 3 in the semis and will crank it up to Best of 5 in the Finals.
6 Teams will be playing in this years edition, a major decrease from last years 10 team total. In a way it is discouraging that it looks like a step back for the basketball society, but I don’t mind it that much. With this 6 team set up, the talent will be less diluted and there will be less teams that will get completely blown out of the water.
Not only will the number of teams be decreasing, the number of imports per team will be down as well. Last year, two imports were allowed per team, with only one being allowed on the court at a certain time.
This year, only one will be allowed on each team.
So here we go with the preview for the first 3 teams in Thailand Basketball League 2015 Team Preview: Part 1!!!
The Raptors weren’t on the original list of teams that was announced at the TBL’s official press conference. But after 3 teams pulled out of the TBL with in 24 hours of the press conference, the league had to find a team to make the total an even number.
The Raptors had played in the TBL2014 under the name “Khon Kaen Raptors” and they are back again this year.
The Raptors will be returning 6 players from last year’s roster, highlighted by Tiwakorn Nuritmontri and Apisittinan Dasom.
Tiwakorn shot a well above average 31.9% from three point land, making 23 of 72 shots and was the Raptors 5th leading scorer with 6.62 points.
If the last name Dasom sounds familiar, that is because Apisittinan is Wuttipong Dasom’s brother who also goes by Kevin. Kevin scored 5.8 points and grabbed 2 rebounds per game for the Raptors in 2014.
The Raptors did take a huge blow by losing 3 key pieces from their team. Brian Sherman was a jolt of entertainment as his high-flying antics got him 9.08 points and 3.31 rebounds and after bouncing around Hi-Tech practices during the ABL season, he debuted as a new recruit for the Mono Vampires in the BTSL tournament Earlier this year.
Patcharaphum Pansura was another former Raptor that went to the Vampires and along with him went the team’s 4th leading rebounder.
The biggest blow, to me, was the loss of Richard Latham who had a pretty good season of scoring 9.77 points and 7.85 rebounds per game. He would have at least been a steady presence in the front court for the Raptors. Alas, he is now only and Ex-Raptors. As to where he ends up…you just have to keep on reading.
From the roster I was provided with, the names Kevin Van Hook and Michael Earl are not to be found and if they aren’t going to be on this year’s roster, the Raptors could be looking forward to a very longgggg season ahead. Earl is a main stay in the Thailand Basketball Scene and he averaged the most points per game in the TBL Last Season. Van Hook might have aged a bit, but he was once an MVP of the TBL and he was strutting his stuff for a game in the Pro-Am Singapore Basketball League as well.
A notable name I saw in the roster was Fujino Hitoshi, who I have completely no idea whatsoever about his whereabouts, but it would be nice to see a foreign Asian baller in the league.
Bold Predictions: 6th. They lost a lot of talent and their status is still uncertain but kudos for them to be participating in this league and hope that they can surprise a big team or two to make things entertaining.
Thai General Equipment (TGE)
This team could very well be the future of Thailand Basketball. Or at least it could be a huge part of it.
I won’t be talking about the more younger bloods as we will surely get to know more of them as time goes on…so let’s talk about the main core of this team that will make them competitive. Starting off with the “Big Three” from last year’s squad are “James” Suppawich Khukhandin, “Palm” Patipan Klahan, and “Fair” Anaswee Klaewnarong. These 3 will be the veterans of this squad, which will be a huge step for them as they are not even 22 years of age yet.
James is a true point guard who doesn’t post up big numbers, but he had his moments in the BTSL. He will need to take on a bigger scoring load on this team as he no longer has proven scorers left and right to support him any longer.
That chunk of scoring load will also be split up between the two towers “Palm” and “Fair”. Palm is the more offensive of the two as he scored 8.93 points per game in last year’s TBL. He showed that he could score in various ways and could get to the line well, but sometimes he just looked a bit distant to the flow of the game.
Fair is sturdier and works closer to the basket. His offense might be lacking a bit, but he makes it up with good rebounding (7.3 per game in TBL2014).
Another player that was lost among the commotion of the Big 3 was Chatchapol Jungyampin. He played only 8 games for TGE last season but averaged 6.13 points and 5.88 rebounds per game. HE IS STILL ONLY 18.
The TGE Backcourt along with James will be BTSL breakout player, Attapong Leelapipatkul.
Attapong played a number of minutes for Hi-Tech in the BTSL and he held himself quite well despite ONLY BEING 17 YEARS OLD. Attapong is a tall guard and once he picks up the pace of the professional level, his movement will become more fluid. Last time I watched him he did well as a catch-and-shoot guy, but he struggled trying to make things happen off the dribble. Again, the kid is only 17 years old, and he will learn. If he keeps getting exposed to this high level of basketball…he will learn quickly.
Another player to look out for for TGE is Kittitep Dasom. Again…if that last name is familiar, YES HE IS WUTTIPONG DASOM’S OTHER BROTHER. Kittitep or “Franky” has proven himself on the national stage of Thailand Basketball and it will be exciting to find out what he can do in the international level. Even though he is dubbed “Thailand’s Ricky Rubio” that is more because of his similar looks than his game. Franky is more of a quick point guard who is good at getting to the rim than a pass-first flashy point guard.
Rounding out the youngsters will be Import Brock Evan, who I had already summarized his credentials here. Brock should bring a defensive and winning mentality to this squad, along with being their mentor and big brother.
TGE should go through the growing pains of being a young squad, but the returning core of the Big Three and Brock Evan should make the process smoother. They should be a very fast team, exploiting teams in transition (as they should with their youth) but might struggle a bit in the half court set.
TGE made the Final Four last year, finishing with a 14-4 record albeit with a mix of veterans on the team, so we shall see if youth can overcome experience in this year’s version.
Bold Prediction: 5th. I love youth and I’m really excited to see how far this team can go, but the fact that this team’s average age barely passes the United States drinking limit is something that you can’t overlook. Youth will push them ahead in some games, but I think it will hold them back in some crucial situations.
PEA Basketball Club
At the end of the first leg of TBL2014, PEA were at second place in the standings. They would eventually fall apart and miss the playoffs, but they were almost there. In the BTSL, they went toe to toe with the Madgoats in two games and pushed the Mono Vampires to the edge as well before slightly missing out in the playoffs. This is no doubt a very good team with a very good staff that just needs some very good luck.
They didn’t start of well in the luck department as they will be missing their local leading scorer, Todsapit Langsui, and offseason transfer, Thanasit Mulwong, who will be nursing post surgery injuries. All the best and speedy recovery for the two.
They will however, be returning a huge core of their team. Anucha Langsui (Todsapit’s brother) will be taking on a bigger scoring role (after scoring 9.45 points/game last year). His combination of length, versatility, and agility is something to look forward to if he continues to develop.
Steady point guard, Sirikorn Kaewma (3.67 assists per game) is also returning alongside underrated inside player, Thongchai Thipayapraphai (6.0 Rebounds per game), and sharpshooting Patiparn Krutsorn (32.1% from the three-point line).
That core itself is pretty good already, and that’s before you add in their off-season acquisitions into the picture.
First off is Apiwat Humard, who joined PEA since the BTSL after playing for TBL2014 runner-ups, Chonburi Hi-Tech for 4 games. Since that move, he has showed that he can handle the point guard position nicely as a speedy change of pace from the more steady Sirikorn Kaewma.
Next is the aforementioned, Richard Latham of last year’s Khonkaen Raptors. Latham should be a huge addition to the PEA Front court, which already has a slew of long players. I have yet to see him actually play, but as I saw from the BTSL, PEA needs another big body who can score inside.
Closing off the transfers section are the highlights of PEAs offseason, the three ex-Madgoats: Suchon Maitampitak, Chalormdech Limsuwan, and Watcharapong Thongsri. Why the Madgoats disbanded for the TBL after winning the championship last season is an issue for another article. What’s important is where their players have landed up, and PEA have landed three of them.
Suchon was a TBL Finals hero, who picked up the slack of point guard duties after Nattakarn Meungboon went down with a wrist injury. He’s not much of a long range shooter (19% from three-point land) but he is a very good finisher (57.7% from inside the arc) and a good willing passer as well. He averaged as many points as he averaged assists in TBL2014 (4.6 points and assists per game). He should fill up the guard position nicely along the aging Sirikorn and the young Atiwat for a lethal back court.
Chalormdech Limsuwan and Watcharapong Thongsri got lost in the forward rotation of the Madgoats but that’s more because of the high level of talent in that position more than a lack of from these two. Watcharapong is a very good three point shooter, and should be able to space the floor very well.
Chalormdech is a long and rangy forward who is a Jack of all trades. It should be fun to see what they can do with the opportunity that have fallen into their laps.
If the registered rosters can be trusted, PEA’s import for this league will be Moses Morgan, former Depaul Blue Demon and Cal State Fullerton Titan.
Moses Morgan is more of an offensive player than their last import (Jon Cathey-Macklin) and should better suit to the lack of offensive firepower of PEA. Watching his highlights, you get to see that his very long and he has a nice quick release. Most of them were catch and shoot situations, so whether he is comfortable creating his own offense off the dribble is a question to be answered come game day.
PEA answered their needs nicely from last year, adding firepower from the Madgoats exiles and adding a big body with Latham. With the number of teams down to 6, they should be able to at least make the playoffs where anything could happen from that point forward.
Bold Prediction: 4th. PEA finished with a 12-6 record last season, barely missing out the playoffs by a game. They responded their positional needs, but what they still lack is the superstar. Teams win championship for sure…but you will always need that game changing superstar as well. Maybe Anucha or some other player can be that superstar, but as of this moment, a superstar is what they are lacking to push them over the top.
You can read Part 2 of our preview HERE!
For more information, you can follow the TBL at the official website.
For information on the Dunkin’ Raptors, you can follow their Facebook Fanpage.
For information on Thai General Equipment, you can follow the Hi-Tech Basketball Club Facebook Fanpage.
Fro information on PEA, you can follow their Facebook Fanpage as well.