Wednesday, July 9, 2014


Smart.com lifted the Lua Choo Hoon Trophy for the first time
defeating WG Warrior 111-84 last week.
The first Industrial and Commercial Basketball League has finally come to an end as Smart-Acc.com emerged as the ultimate champion defeating WG Warriors in a high-octane game grabbing the RM10,000 prize money.

Smart surprised a few teams during the early playoff run and become the favorite to win the title after defeating Takumi Heroes and took Danial Eves from Takumi (the rules and regulation allowed advanced teams to pick one player from the defeated teams as they progress from one stage to another) who eventually become the final MVP as they had the 30 points advantage from the handicap system.

Safe to say that ICBL is interesting for a few reasons.

The handicap system allows lesser teams to compete with elite players and present them situation where they can actually win, theoretically, with the handicap advantage and disadvantage. The handicaps also force the elite players to go all out and put up their A-game in order to win.

ICBL also proved that basketball requires team work rather than just individual talents. There are a bunch of examples shown in ICBL that current or former national or state players do not automatically translate to a win for the team. At least not more than a double digit win.

Teams still need to have chemistry, teamwork, coordination, strategy and practice instead of just iso and free-flow to all in order to win in the regular season (the playoff however present additional different set of rules).

Another reason it is interesting is because they are willing to take Malaysia basketball to a place where it has never been done before. We’re not only talking about the handicap system but also the introduction of the compulsory non chinese players and The Draft for each team (with exception of NC teams).

Syafeeq didn't disappoint as the first pick.

ICBL embarks on a new journey of Malaysia basketball by promoting the game to the non chinese players and its community to play alongside (not just against) the more dominant chinese community and players.

Despite the initial doubt, good positive response and vibes were received overall. Managers and coaches were complementing the standard of the draftees and looking forward to the league.

However as the league proceeds, it is clear that not all of the Draftees or NC players are up to par with the standard of the state or national players (the same can be said to some of the chinese players too). A few of the teams struggled to play because of the handicap system. Its either they were having a hard time to reduce the deficit (due to the handicap) or they were just having a hard time to play against a better teams. I personally think that it was because those teams lack of team training, strategy and chemistry (another topic on another day).

When these happened, the disparity and level of play between the draftees and non draftees were imminent. Only a few NC players proved that they are able to play and compete at the state level such as Micheal (non draft), Edika, Prem (non draft) and the no.1 draft pick GunD. With the exception of GunD, these players have been playing and training with open (i.e. Chinese team) most of the time.

Which bring us to the fact and the reality that the NC players still have a long way to go to compete at the highest level of Malaysia basketball. The NC community needs to realize and wake up from their delusional world of NC basketball of their standard and level.

This is why the Draft was introduced.

When the ICBL community team approached me initially for non-chinese team participants, I was skeptical and reluctant to be a part of it. I am for one is against the concept of all NC teams (despite all my teams are all NC teams with the exception of Malaysia Media Basketball Club).

For me there is no valid point of having an all NC team competing in an open tournament. It beats the purpose of sports and racial unity and should I say, look racist. The same can be said about all chinese team.

Having a great NC teams that can beat all the open or chinese team only to prove that NC players can play is like stroking your own ego. What good does it do in the long run? The effect is short term and should I say selfish?

This is not the same as sending an all NC teams to play in the open tournament to gain experience (e.g. UiTM).

In order to move forward, we should emphasize on the racial unity, among others, and bring basketball to wider community and not just within certain community.

What can we gain from the draft?

Connection and network

ICBL Draft allowed the more dominant basketball community (ie the Chinese community) to have a glimpse of what the NC basketball community could do if given chances and also hopefully knock some sense to the NC community how far they are lacking compare to the more dominant community instead of just playing within each own community or circles.

Managers, coaches, teams, clubs, and players will have bigger network and bigger pool of player to play and training with. Imagine all the talents out there waiting to be polished and shined. Where as the players will have more teams to play with which mean different level of leagues and tournaments which translate to more games.

Knowledge and experiene

Good team with good management such as the WG Warriors have foreign coach. While foreign coach does not automatically mean they are good or great, but playing with a lot of coaches to gain different experience and knowledge is not a bad thing. Especially if they are national or agong cup coach.

A good case out of the ICBL draft would be Bukhari for Takumi Heroes. He wasn’t even drafted in the first place and was merely a replacement. He gained tremendous experience and exposure playing for Takumi as he was able to participate in their training and was introduced to new environment and system. While he didn’t actually single handily determine the of the outcome of the game (he fumbles the ball quite often) but he got significant minutes and play a decent role. In certain game he even play more minutes than the other draft player (Sassinderan) as he suits Takumi run and gun, fast pace play style.

In fact two of the national juniors trainees (Syahrul and Shaun) and also the UiTM players are two good examples of this exposure and knowledge sharing.

Needless to say we are definitely entering unfamiliar territories.

You can’t expect the draft is without any cons or flaws especially in its first year. Trust and chemistry are among the main issues between the draftees and their team. And not all the teams have training session which make it even harder for the draftees to click with their new teammates.

The draftees are a mix of good and decent players. While some of them might play a significant amount and role in their own team, it is totally a whole different story in ICBL. The level is different. The pressure and expectation are different too. They might don’t have the same trust and comfort zone that they used to.

Akil and Ariff the two draft players for Smart who
also play for Smart recently in KL Open which they
are also the first runner up.
These are the challenges that the NC player have to overcome. The trust should be earn, not given. In survival of the fittest, the strongest always survive.

This is one way to improve Malaysia basketball. Not just in term of raising the NC players standards but also to break the racial barrier and myth surrounding Malaysia basketball scene.

When we first introduce ICBL to the press, Mr. Peng Seow Cheong (the guy who wrote all the reviews) told me personally after the press conference that ICBL Draft is a much needed short term program for both Malaysia basketball and NC development.

He even asked MABA whether they have the gut to take the same initiative to implement the same NC players rule for all its major tournaments (Agong Cup, U20, U18, Lam Mun Chap, etc). Which would be my next crusade (among many).

Hopefully in the near future I’m able to see kids and children regardless of their skin color playing basketball side to side sharing the same floor in all parts of Malaysia.

A real racial unity that isn’t just for show.

ICBL Community Team 2014

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