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3:41pm 17/06/2022
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Basketball as a sport of unity
By:Saifuddin Abdullah

On June 10, I officiated the finals of the Malaysian Football Association (MABA) – MATRIX Basketball Tournament 2022 at Balik Pulau Sports Complex in Penang.

The Negeri Sembilan team emerged champions after defeating the Sabah team.

The complex used is a multipurpose hall. To accommodate the national tournament, a basketball floor was installed inside the hall. It’s an interlocking type which is made of plastic.

In Malaysia, an international standard basketball court can be found at the MABA Stadium, Kuala Lumpur. The floor is made of air thrust wood. For the basketball world, the best floors, for example in the NBA, are made of maple wood.

The price of a basketball floor is not expensive. With good maintenance, it is durable.

The MABA-MATRIX Cup is the most important non-Chinese tournament. It aims to hone the talents of non-Chinese players who are eventually expected to play in the country’s mainstream basketball.

For the national men’s team, starting with Zabri Chik (1970s), almost every team has non-Chinese players.

The national women’s team that won the 2015 and 2017 SEA Games gold medals had two non-Chinese players, namely Izzati (captain) and Kalai.

In 1974, full boarding schools started the Hamdan Cup (men) and Zainab Cup (women) tournaments.

Basketball is also popular in MARA Science Junior Colleges.

More and more non-Chinese are playing in other schools.

Meanwhile, Universiti Teknologi MARA is among the best university teams.

Today, there are over half a million non-Chinese who play basketball. The image of basketball as a ‘Chinese sport’ is beginning to wane.

To enhance its development, the new MABA President Dato’ Seri Lee Tian Hock has set up a Non-Chinese Basketball Development Committee chaired by Liew Yong Choon, manager of the national men’s team (1989 SEA Games gold medalist) and coach of the Kuala Kangsar Malay College.

It is made up of committed non-Chinese coaches and former players.

The achievements of our national basketball teams are encouraging. The women’s team stands out more. At the SEA Games, it has won gold medals eleven times.

At the Asian level, our men’s team is ranked 27th, women’s team 12th, men’s junior 13th, and women’s junior 8th.

While at the world level, the men’s team ranks 126th, women’s 68th, men’s junior 68th, and women’s junior 48th.

Thus far, the nation’s basketball has been developed, in general, independently. If it obtains greater financial assistance from the government, as well as with more systematic planning and implementation of development, it can leap forward.

In any case, basketball has managed to become a unity sport.

(Datuk Seri Saifuddin Abdullah is the founder of the Malaysian Women’s Basketball League and a former coach.)

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Saifuddin Abdullah
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