I know it’s a bit overdue, but let’s wrap up the SEABA Championship 2017! Who came out in a better spot than when they came in? Who failed to meet their expectations?
Cover Picture edited by Brandon Lee
Before we head on, I acknowledge that it seems like I just vanished during the tournament with updates getting less and less frequent especially after Thailand’s loss to Indonesia. One person was even concerned enough to warn me that I should still continue to update news whether “my team” won or lost.
So first of all, I am sorry for abruptly halting on my updates. You’ll have to blame my lazy ass for that. However, it was not because Thailand lost and that all my hopes and dreams in life were extinguished (though it kind of did feel that way), it was just because of my inability to manage myself and my issues.
In my attempt to recap the entire SEABA Championship 2017 experience, I decided to do a simple “Stock Update” of different things in the tournament. For any item (person/team/etc.), I’ll note whether they exceeded expectations (stock up), fell short of expectations (stock down), or just didn’t do more or less than expected (neutral). I’ll also note whether it’s an item you should “buy” your interest into or something you should “sell” your attention for something else more interesting.
If you understand the basics of economy, I think you’ll have no problem understanding all of this so… let’s dig in!
Chooks to Go!
Stock: Up, up, and Away
Stock Advice: Try it out
I don’t know how it was for viewers at home but if there’s one unforgettable thing that you got from watching a SEABA Championship game live, it was Mara Aquino booming “Chooks to Go! Naggiisang Manok Ng Bayan!” (Roughly translated to “Chooks to Go! The only Chicken of the Nation?) over and over again throughout the entire week until you can’t get it out of your head.
And as annoying as it was to hear it over and over and over and over again… it was an awesomely effective marketing strategy.
I went from not knowing what the hell “Chooks to Go” was to asking my friends if “Chooks to Go” was really that good.
I haven’t gotten to try “Chooks to Go” yet, but it’s on the top of my bucket list right now.
Wana Aung, the Myanmese Sensation
Stock Advice: Buy only if you have money to spare
No one really expected anything from Myanmar so Wana’s burst of athleticism, relentless will to score with only his right hand, and his total disinterest in defence was always an entertaining part of the Myanmar games.
It obviously helped that Myanmar played the Philippines in their first game (and took a 107-point drubbing) so that loosened them up and gained them the affection of the fans.
Wana is still quite young (22 years old) and he looks like he could have a nice future ahead of him if he figures a way to get consistent high level competition to play against, but let’s stop the hype of him being an Asian/ASEAN import for now.
Myanmar National Team
Stock: Steadily rising
Stock Advice: Buy One share just in case
Myanmar looks out of place among the teams participating here and were blown out in almost every single game, which makes the fact that they were participating in this event at all interesting.
To participate in such events, you need funding and financial backing from somewhere. To have been able to convince someone that sponsoring this young (average 20 years old) team that everyone knew would get blown out by every team is an inspiring start to basketball development in the country. They even went out an hired an international Head Coach, Malaysian Ten Kok Heng, to lead their team so… there’s that.
Of course, I don’t expect them to suddenly challenge the big brothers of the region within this decade… but a start is a start.
Singapore National Team
Advice: Don’t buy… but don’t sell either. Hold on for now
This might seem a bit harsh for a team that was gutted of depth due to injuries and other commitments, but I still feel that Singapore performed well under what was expected from their team.
Wong Wei Long (Stock: Down) struggled badly (32.7 FG%) and couldn’t shoulder the team in scoring which was much needed. It might all come down to fatigue for Wei Long (both mentally and physically) and the rest between now and the SEA Games might be what he needs to get back in shape. I don’t know if I’m being too hard on a guy who averaged 7.2 points, 5.2 rebounds, and 4.8 assists but that just says how much was expected out of the 2-time ABL Local MVP.
So the load of responsibility went over to Delvin Goh (Stock: Neutral) and Leon Kwek (Stock: Neutral) to put points on the board. Both were first (11.0) and third (9.3), respectively, in scoring on the team and they’re still very young (22 and 20, respectively) but they have yet to ooze of anything special here in this tournament. Goh had a hard time finishing around the rim (35.7 FG%) but he did show a steady mid-range shot while Kwek disappeared entirely from the game too often.
The bright spots on the team were Larry Liew (Stock: Slightly Up) and Lavin Raj (will mention later). Liew seems to be close to the groove he was in before he was enrolled to the Police Force after averaging 10.2 points on 37.9 3P%. Even though it wasn’t enough to make his team better in this tournament, it’s a good sign for Coach Arsego leading into preparation for SEA Games.
Speaking of Coach Arsego… yes, Singapore was disappointing compared to what I was expecting coming in but I also have to cut them some slack for playing under a new coach and system for the first time. We’ll know more about what to expect from Singapore in the future soon.
Lavin “The Maha” Raj, the Next BIG Thing
Stock: SKYROCKETING UP ON ONE OF THOSE FUTURISTIC ROCKETS
Advice: CLEAR THE BANKS AND HOP ON THE RAJ BANDWAGON
I had to make a separate topic for the Lavin Raj so you just know he’s special.
“But what’s so special about this guy? Sure he averaged 9.7 points… but he only played big minutes against Myanmar and Vietnam. Stop hyping him up like he’s the next Hamed Haddadi, TK.”
Ok, so I might be hyping Raj up a little too hard but give me a chance to explain myself.
He’s 16 (but will be turning 17 this year, which is why he couldn’t play in the U16 division fyi) and 6’7″. I had seen him playing in the U18 Championship last year (sorry for bringing that up again) and I had my concerns about his agility and mobility so I expected that he wouldn’t get much playing time.
And I was right!… for the first three games. Then, Coach Arsego decided to unleash the wrath of Raj on Myanmar and it just kept snowballing from there. While his 19 points (6/9 FG, 7/7 FT) vs Myanmar was impressive, I enjoyed his performance against Thailand and Vietnam more.
Raj showed some promising footwork and body control in those two games going up against more experienced athletes. More importantly is the progress he showed from being the big guy in the U18 tournament that didn’t do much more than run slowly up and down the court. He’s come a long way in one year… and he’s still barely 17 years old.
And it’s not just me who is really high on Raj! A source says that a college in the Philippines is interested in recruiting him as well! Whether that would be the best choice for him is up for him and his inner circle to decide… but it’s the interest that confirms that this young kid has the potential to be something else.
PS. “Maharaj” or “Maharaja” can be translated to “Great King” in Sanskrit. Screw you, I’m witty and funny.
“PBA D-League is the place to develop National Team Talent” Discussion
Stock: Shockingly Increasing
Advice: I wouldn’t advise it… but it wouldn’t be that risky to buy
A lot of fans were gushing over how improved the Malaysia National Team (more on that in a bit) looked when they pushed Thailand to the final minutes of the game. Then they were quick to point out how the PBA D-League experience was to credit for their success. Some thing on the lines of “playing in the D-League made them more physical”.
Which I guess is true. Malaysia averaged the most fouls in the tournament at 21.5 where no other team averaged more than 18.
This led to a conversation of Vietnam/Singapore should also join the PBA D-League… which would be very interesting indeed, if it were to happen.
But let’s slow down a bit here.
Was there really that significant of an improvement from the Malaysian National Team? Malaysia has always played physical (and I mean that in a good way). They averaged the most fouls in the SEABA Stankovic Cup and that was even before they joined the PBA D-League. The PBA D-League did give the players a venue to consistently play at against a high level of competition… but it’s not the only option out there.
The PBA D-League is a decent option, but it’s just one of them out there in the region right now.
Malaysia National Team
Stock: Shot Up Really Fast but Slightly Declining
Advice: Would have been nice to have bought low earlier, so BUY NOW before it shoots up during SEA Games
I didn’t get the time to write my preview for the Malaysian National Team but if I did, I have to be honest and say that it wouldn’t have been nice. I didn’t expect much and the fact that they were leaving out stars like Yeo, Keuk, Yi Hou, Shee Fai, and Ma didn’t seem good to me.
Good thing I didn’t publish that preview because the Malaysians came out and played their butts off. They immediately became crowd favorites for their fast paced physical style of play among other things like having played in the PBA D-League and having their own Fake Terrence Romeo. Even when Malaysia were going down the wire with underdogs Vietnam, the Filipino crowd cheered hard for Malaysia even though they are prone to cheering for underdogs.
A team led by fringe ABL role players Choo Wei Hong (Stock: Slightly Up), Chun Hong Ting (will talk about in a bit), and Teo Kok Hou (Stock: Neutral) went and played their hearts out in Manila and came away with 3 wins. Imagine how much better this team would be heading into the SEA Games when they add their stars and have home-court advantage (remember that the SEA Games will be played in Kuala Lumpur).
Still, there is a bit of concern about the consistency of Malaysia. They played well going up against Thailand, but struggled so badly against Vietnam that it just seemed like two separate teams. It took a clutch Choo Wei Hong jumper to get them the win in overtime… and it shouldn’t have to had come down to that to begin with.
Chun Hong Ting (open to suggestions for cool moniker)
Stock: Climbing Under the Radar
Advice: Buy Now while still low
I first watched Ting play just slightly under a year ago for a select KL Dragons team in the Seri Mutiara Cup and my initial reactions were “could be a nice undersized power foward” and “WHY IS HE CALLED MEI MEI” (Ting is also called Mei Mei for some reason. I hope Malaysian readers will help tell me why). I didn’t think he would be anything special and didn’t really see the potential for him to become something special and that’s why I’m a blogger and not a professional basketball scout.
Ting then made the Westports Malaysia Dragons roster in the ABL and had his brief moments of flashing potential, but it was not until the SEABA Championship that we really got to see what might lay in the future for the 21-year-old.
Highlighted by 28 points against Vietnam, Ting averaged 12.7 points (6th in the competition) and shot an impressive 45.5% from beyond the three point line. He showed that he was not only limited to being simply an inside player as I had believed in the past. And he’s still only 21! Add him to the core of Kuk Hou, Yi Hou, Tian Yuan, and Ivan Yeo and you have a bright future for the Malaysia National Team.
The Malaysia Jazz Jerseys
Advice: Beauty is in the Eyes of the Beholder
I never really understood the color scheme of the Malaysia National Team jerseys. Two years ago, they were sporting a bright Red/Yellow for the away jerseys in the SEA Games and a dark maroon in the SEABA Championship. That didn’t seem too weird, since red is a symbol of good fortune in Chinese culture which is also a big part of Malaysian Culture.
But in the second game of this year’s SEABA Championship, Malaysia came out in their away jerseys which resembled… the Utah Jazz? The Australia National Team?
The Dark Green/Yellow scheme didn’t make much sense, but at the very least it wasn’t sore on the eyes either. I guess you could make a case for the Yellow strips which could be linked to a tiger which is the moniker of the National Team… but it’s still a stretch.
I’m not hating. The jerseys look fine. It just seems a bit unrelatable for fans.
The Vietnam “Hanoi Buffaloes” Jerseys
Stock: *cricket chirps*
I thought Vietnam was onto something with the National Team jerseys back in SEA Games 2015. Those were solid fire.
For whatever reason, the National Team decided that will not be having any of that flashy stuff this time around and opted for… a jersey design which referred to the National Team only if you saw the small flag on the upper right side.
The color scheme (Blue/Orange) resembled more of the Hanoi Buffaloes (VBA) team and there wasn’t even a wording on the chest that said “VIETNAM” which… I dunno, should have been one of the top priorities of designing a jersey.
Vietnam National Team
Stock: Climbing Back Up After Sharp Fall
Advice: Hold on to stock, but don’t buy just yet
It’s been a rollercoaster ride for Vietnamese Basketball Fans this past month. At first, the inital roster had VBA stars Horace Nguyen, Stefan Nguyen, and Tam Dinh listed. Then Stefan was left off the roster and Horace and Tam Dinh followed suit by claiming a “miscommunication between the federation”. From looking at potentially the BEST Vietnamese National Team roster ever, fans were with a team that grouped up with barely a week of practice playing under a Head Coach who had no experience in the international scene. Expectations went from skyhigh to rockbottom low in a brief moment.
But when the time came to play (despite their shortcomings with jersey designs), Vietnam weren’t complete pushovers!
Sure, they were only able to beat Myanmar and were blown out by Thailand/Indonesia/and the Philippines. However, if you watched the games, you could see that every team they played expected them to play at a much lower level and awkwardly adjusted to that. Thailand beat them easily, but I don’t think they expected Vietnam to score as much and as easily as they did. Malaysia opted to rest their starters and immediately regretted it as Vietnam dragged them to overtime. Singapore was only able to break free in the fourth quarter.
The trio of Nguyen Van Hung (36), Tran Vu Linh (30), and Trieu Han Minh (29) aren’t exactly a “young” core for Vietnam to build on, but their success does signal the positive effect of having a local league as well as their participation in the ABL.
Nguyen Van Hung, The Olympian
Advice: It’s a good story, but don’t buy
Van Hung is an Olympian, an Asian Games Gold Medalist, and a SEA Games Gold Medalist…. sadly not for basketball, but for Taekwondo.
What a hell of a story it is though! Van Hung is probably one of the most successful athletes in all of the SEABA Championship and he only recently picked up basketball. The best thing about all of this is that it’s not just a gimmick. Van Hung is actually pretty good at basketball (even with the Shawn Marion jump shot). Van Hung was the only player to average a double-double with 11.8 points and 10.2 rebounds while averaging 36.1 minutes… at the age of 36 years old!
Van Hung isn’t the future of Vietnamese basketball, that’s for sure but he’s helping them draw interest to the sport and setting a good example for the next generation for his discipline and dedication.
Mario Wuysang, The Ancient One
Stock: Rising Again
Advice: Prepare to sell
If you thought Nguyen Van Hung was old at 47… meet Mario Wuysang. At thirty-frickin-eight-years-old, Wuysang was awesome. Sure the numbers don’t blow your mind at only 7.8 points and 5.3 assists, but watching him play and orchestrate the offense was a joy in itself.
He had an off-shooting game here and there but when it counted the most, Wuysang was there for his team as evident in his clutch go-ahead basket against Thailand.
/still can’t stop crying
Indonesia National Team
Stock: Steady Growth
Advice: Buy Now, Buy Later, Whatever. It’s a Good Buy
It was a rough tumble in the beginning for Indonesia with injuries (Posianus Indrawan), unavailability (Adhi Pratama), to techinical difficulties (Arki Wisnu/Jamarr Johnson) but they played accordingly to their expectations and maybe even exceeded a bit more considering their lack of personnel.
It was disappointing how they handled Wisnu/Johnson’s documents making them ineligible to play for the first 4 games, but everything else seemed to go accordingly well.
Wisnu and Johnson didn’t look like the stars they were supposed to be in their only two games. However, it’s unfair to judge them on two games against Myanmar and Philippines especially after a frustrating stretch where they were unallowed to play.
The SEA Games squad for Indonesia should look similar to the team sent to SEABA with a few changes, but the main difference will be the allowed preparation time. Without a running local league, Indonesia will be able to fully practice as a team and have already begun to call up for training camp.
Abraham Damar Grahita, the Other Guy
Advice: Buy some, but don’t break the bank.
Even though Grahita was a newcomer on the Senior National Team roster, that didn’t stop him from emerging as the team’s leading scorer at 13.2 points per game (5th Overall).
Ghahita could work on his consistency, though. It wasn’t the most efficient 13.2 points (on 11.7 shots) and his only two double digit scoring games were against Malaysia and Myanmar. But still, his team was confident enough to give him those shots and he was confident enough to take them. All of this points toward a bright future for the 22-year-old up-and-coming talent.
Stock: Drastic Drop
Advice: Chill. Sell if you really need to, but don’t rush.
The hype shot up so fast (and I have myself to blame to a certain level) that it was almost impossible to fulfil that level of expectation.
The fact that Johnson was held out for for the first four game due to incomplete documents created even more hype surrounding his eventual debut. So when Johnson was cleared to play and he didn’t start producing like LeBron James… it just felt underwhelming.
You can’t really blame Johnson. It wasn’t entirely his fault that his documents were incomplete (the management has to be held responsible for this as well) and it wasn’t his fault that he only got to play two games that didn’t really matter much.
But you still have to admit that you expected much more from Johnson going into the tournament than he displayed.
(PS. Good News for Johnson though, as he was picked up to join the Dunkin Raptors in the TBL 2017!)
Thailand National Team
Stock: Slight Decline
Advice: Wait to Buy Low
The entire Thailand National Team was also a victim of over-hyping.
With recent memories of close results against the Philippines lingering in everyone’s heads, Thailand came in with a feel of the team to look out for once the tournament started.
And as harsh as it might sound, it just felt like Thailand just weren’t up to the level that we were expecting them to play at. It’s not just about the blow out to the Philippines (because everyone was blown out by the Philippines). It wasn’t even completely about the loss to Indonesia (who are a really, really, good team). It was more about how they weren’t able to run over lesser Malaysia National Team. It was more of how they seemed to lack a certain killer instinct.
This is not to say that Thailand sucked. On the contrary, Thailand displayed the physique, athleticism, and skill level to be the second best team in the tournament. But there were just too many instances where they seemed to not feel like playing at that level. Some players did stand out more than others and there were a lot of solid contributors… but it just wasn’t consistently spread around.
I guess it’s not the make or break point for Thailand since they still have the tools and resources to be the second best team in the region, but I also feel that something has got to change to nudge the team and players in the right way.
Is there enough preparation time for the players and coaches to get to understand each other?
Do the players get the opportunity to play in the roles they are intended to play in their local leagues?
Are the best players available to play for the National Team and if they are, are they chosen to play for the team?
Wuttipong Dasom, The Awkward Situation
Stock: I DON’T KNOW WHAT THE HELL TO DO
Advice: /throws hands up in the air
“How dare you say no one from Thailand stood out? Did you not watch Dasom’s 40-point, 11-rebound game?!”
Trust me, I watched that game. No doubt, it was impressive. You can’t trash a baller scoring 40 points in a game.
However, that was against Myanmar and Dasom was taking every shot he got his hands on. To be fair, he did work hard to make 19 of those 25 shots… but let’s take a look at the bigger picture. Dasom played 31 minutes against Myanmar, 15 minutes against Vietnam, and no more than 10 minutes against Philippines, Malaysia, and Indonesia. Something was obviously wrong. And it all came out after Thailand’s lost against the Philippines.
According to Spin.PH, this is what Lewis said on Dasom playing only 10 minutes after his 40-point game:
“There’s a variety of reasons, some of them I won’t go into but he basically has to understand how to play within a team concept. Until he does that, he’s gonna find it hard to play at a national team level.”
From the same article, here’s what Dasom said about his limited minutes:
Dasom didn’t mince any words, admitting that “me and my coach have not seen eye to eye since the first time he coached. There are certain things I’ve been doing a long time. I play basketball at a certain level and coming here, it was hard to fit in. My playing time is limited.”
That… doesn’t sound good.
Dasom is a physically gifted player with all of the athleticism to be able to succeed, but it’s going to be a problem if his mentality is holding him back. In the past few seasons, Dasom has been improving in getting more aggressive on offense but is he sacrificing his floor game in the process?
We’ll get a better picture of how the Dasom situation will play out with his return to the TBL with Hitech and new head coach, Chris Daleo.
Chitchai Ananti, the Target
Advice: Buy Please
Ananti came in projected to be one of the best scorers in the tournament, and he didn’t disappoint. Finishing as the second leading scorer with 16.2 points, Ananti showed that he could shoot the three, drive to the rim, and do whatever it took to put the ball in the basket.
Well… except for that game against the Philippines. In the 15 minutes he played, Ananti managed to attempt only two shots, let alone score a single point. Gilas were never really in threat of an upset, but Coach Chot made sure nonetheless that Thailand’s best scorer would never get into rhythm. Roger Pogoy and Abueva took turns making life a living hell.
As per Ananti in an ABS-CBN article:
“Everyone’s really tall, so it’s harder to go inside and create my usual rhythm. Their coach prepared the defensive plan well. I was set out on an island, and didn’t get the ball.”
As disappointing as it was to see how helpless Ananti was, it also was a sign of how much Gilas had respected Ananti as a scorer.
Teerawat Chantachon, The Silver Lining
Stock: Rising about as high as he can jump
Advice: BUY AND HOLD ON FOR YOUR LIFE
With little to hope for in the Thailand-Philippines game as the lead grew from 10 to 20 to 30… I started looking for silver linings like any sad fan of the losing side would. Things like “But we had a 73-9 record in the regular season” or stuff like that.
And there I found Chantachon.
Chantachon was on the SEA Games 2015 squad and he blew a crucial lay up late in that game. Maybe he felt like he had a chance to redeem himself here or something. He might not have had explosive numbers (8.5 points and 6.0 rebounds is pretty modest), but he stepped up in the games that mattered most. In the game against Indonesia, Chantachon had two early monster dunks and 11 rebounds. More importantly, his 16 points is the most points any other player in this tournament scored on Gilas.
From now on, Chantachon just has to keep his head on the right path and keep on improving his all-around basketball skills and he can certainly become a top-player in this region without a doubt.
Philippines National Team
Advice: Pricy Stock, but Safe Buy
I don’t know, honestly. What much can you say about a team that scored the most points per game (113) and allowed the least points per game (54.3)?
Gilas dominated in every single aspect of every single game so it’s pretty much pointless to try and take anything away from their performances.
Yeah, Matthew Wright showed that he can shoot the lights out in his first Gilas stint is it going to translate well when he goes up against bigger, faster, and better players in the Asian stages? And other stuff like that.
What I can say is that, it was a pleasure to be able to watch this squad play in the SEABA region and to see the players of the other teams going up against these guys.