Aiming high

Fadhil Yunus

Unleashing the potential of youth is crucial in any sport to meet the objective of producing the best athletes possible to represent the country, both in the domestic and international scene.

Brunei Darussalam has seen the emergence of young talents in both individual and team sports, as is evident from a host of strong performances in regional competitions.

The country’s best young basketball players caught the public eye through their participation in the recently-held 5.11 National Basketball League at the Brunei Basketball Association Court in Batu Bersurat.

The Brunei Basketball Association (BBA), the body overseeing basketball activities and affairs, has taken the initiative to promote the development of youth by providing opportunities to play competitive basketball.

Under the guidance of experienced coaches and players, youth were able to gain valuable insights and fine-tune their skills in pressure-cooker situations.

Easyway Basketball head coach Ryan Yusof said, “I think this tournament is about projecting our youth to play in a more competitive environment.”

The 5.11 National Basketball League marked the first basketball tournament hosted by the BBA since the pandemic. Initially, the tournament was reserved to districts but this year the organisers extended to clubs.

Ryan, who led Easyway Basketball to the title, added, “The highlight of the tournament is all about youth. We are happy that a lot of youth are involved in the tournament.”

The tournament served as a platform for youth to unleash their potential when called upon in a competitive environment.

“The league brings up a lot of youth with potential that we have seen but which we have never seen play in a match. It’s all about seeing the potential of youth and some of them have displayed really good character when put under pressure.

“Some of my players perform and prevail when they are put under pressure. It is a good time to show Brunei basketball especially how long when we’ve been dormant over the year seeing the youth all over Brunei coming together.”

Throughout the eight-game competition, the under-23 players from across the nine teams contributed with individual performances marked by game-high points, collection of three pointers and clever assists. Easyway Basketball under-23 player Jake Chong played a central role in most of his team’s victories including a 25-point performance against Yi’s Nation V2.

Despite Team 409’s apparent shortcomings in the tournament, the under-23 duo of Chan Yung Ken and Matthew Fong left the crowd in awe as they traded a pair of three-pointers against Ong Sum Ping.

Similarly, Lim Jin Yuan of Ong Sum Ping and Tutong Basketball’s Jaron On also played important roles in their teams as they looked in search of victory.

“I think the association (BBA) and coaches are happy to see there is a good of talent out there that we can work with in the future.”

The tournament not only exposed the under-23 players to play in a competitive environment but also to enhance their performance levels and their standards in the game.

It also helped familiarise the players with and develop awareness in various aspects of the game which is demanded of them.

Ryan said, “The whole journey is about improving and seeing where our level is. When we are ready to go for outside competitions, we try to keep it professional as possible in terms of how we play, respectful of other teams and how we prepare going into a tournament.

“Overall, my players have performed excellently on and off the court. At the end of the day, as a coach, I would love to see the team win but I really like to see improvement within the team in terms of character as a team and as a player.”

Ryan added that it is a matter of understanding how to play within the team concept and play within their own role when they are in the court.

“It is easy to play a pick-up game but it is much harder to put discipline in an actual tournament because you have rules and regulations. There is pressure and it is also challenging.”