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Sports Notes Part 1 - CAMBODIA BUILDS BASKETBALL FUTURE WITH NEW KIDS IN TOWN

James Loving - National Radio Text Service

 

 

Three Cambodians living abroad have returned the join Cambodia's national basketball team. After a weeks practice they lost 74-71 in the first of a two game friendly with Vietnam. After only a weeks worth of practice the Khmers are getting tougher and learning to know each other in preparation for the upcoming Sea Games

 

Friday October 21, 2011

Phnom Penh, Cambodia

CAMBODIAN'S LIVING ABROAD RETURN TO HELP THEIR COUNTRY

Basketball in Cambodia is pretty much a forgotten sport which is largely ignored by the nation's sports federations. The country places more of an emphasis on promoting tennis and golf which are identified with the wealthy while boxing and basketball are identified with the poor.

Nigerian Austin Koledoye the Cambodian national basketball manager is trying to change Cambodia's loser reputation. He put the word out requesting Cambodian's living outside the country that he was looking for skilled players to return and help their nation to prepare for the upcoming Sea Games to be held in Indonesia.

The first results of Koledoye's efforts was a sweet and sour experience as the team lost a close friendly game with a Vietnam team 74-71 in the first of a two game friendly with the visitors. Though the team blew a 15 point lead Koledoye was pleased with the team's performance.

The Khmers were led by three returnees Boroth Thach from Sweden led the team in scoring with 18 points. Sop Ouen who lives in Fresno, California pitched in with 15 points. Pek Mith currently living in Lowell, Massachusetts made the most impressive play of the evening with an over the shoulder no look pass to Ouen who was cutting down the lane and made the basket.

The loss was not all bad considering that the three returnees have only been practicing with the squad for a week. The smaller Vietnam squad took advantage with the Cambodian players not being familiar with each other. They full court pressed the Khmers and made fast breaks from the first jump ball. The Khmers responded with tough rebounding and aggressively attacked their competition with the quarter ending 20-20.

Cambodia built their 42-27 lead largely on their strength on the offensive boards with follow up rebounds that led to scores. Poor passing and an aggressive Vietnam full court press unnerved the Khmer who made numerous passing errors leading to turnovers and Vietnam points on the board. The Khmer squad led at the half 44-37 after registering a 24 point quarter.

From the start of the second half Vietnam continued to press and made numerous substitutions keeping the team fresh on the court with fresh legs that exerted pressure on Cambodia who became unnerved and made poor decisions and passes.

Cambodia was holding on to the ball and dribbling too much making the Vietnam pressure more effective. Cambodian was reacting to Vietnam's aggressiveness as opposed to taking command of its own play. Cambodia was not rotating on passing the ball. Passes were made after they used up their dribble and were made as a last resort which played into Vietnam's hands. The visitors took the lead in the 3rd quarter at the 5 minute mark 48-47. They outscored Cambodia in the 3rd 22-12 and ended the quarter with a 59-56 lead.

Cambodia made numerous mental errors. In one case while shooting a foul shot a Khmer player made a motion to shoot and pulled the ball back that resulted in a turnover giving Vietnam position of the ball. That was major and error as it was a four point turnaround in the two Cambodia could have made and lost and the two that Vietnam made. That four point spread was a factor in a three point loss.

The fourth quarter continued with the Vietnam full court press pressing and Cambodia unable to deal with the pressure. The Khmers regained the lead 64-63 with Thach's driving lay-up down the lane.

During the quarter Cambodia was lazy getting down to their offensive end as coach Koledoye repeatedly prompted them to do so. The game was tied at 65 with 4:15 remaining in the contest. At that point Vietnam started to hit their shots inside and outside while a tried looking Cambodia couldn't adjust to the visitors speed and aggressiveness. They were swarming on the Khmers like fleas while playing an up-tempo finesse game.

CONTINUED - GAME 2, GAME NOTES & SCOREBOARD - WHO'S THE MAN IN MANCHESTER?

GAME NOTES

Vietnam coach Eric Samson said he applied the fast break and full court system against Cambodia knowing that the Khmer had three new players that would have to adapt to being together and with a new team.

After his game plan resulted in a 74-71 victory over Cambodia he said he was very impressed with the play of Cambodia's Sop Ouen. The coach who hails from the Philippines praised Ouen's hustle, defense, rebounding and shooting ability. "He can do everything well," he said.

Samson was pleased with having the two game friendly in Cambodia citing that it is difficult to scout ASEAN teams and these contests would help both teams prepare for the upcoming Sea Games. The coach also took into account that his style of play would help his small team that range in size from 5"8"to their tallest player at 6'3". He went to his bench throughout that game. "I want all 12 of my players to play," he said while adding that he felt comfortable with all 12 players that he feels are almost of equal talent.

He said the team is from Ho Chi Minh City and won the Vietnam league title. He noted that they usually win the title thus they were chosen by Vietnam's decision makers to represent the country in the Sea Games.

When you think about the decision it is a good one as in International football it is recognized that a good club team has the advantage over a national team since they play together all the time and a group of stars on an International team don't play as often together as a team.


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