Esmond Tan will lace up for Mochi-Each A Cup at the inaugural Brunei Basketball Association League which tips off today. Picture: BT file
Brunei basketball is taking another step forward.
The 1st Brunei Basketball Association League will tip off today at the Brunei Basketball Association court (BBA) in Batu Bersurat. The all-local inaugural league will see six teams - Mochi-Each A Cup (MEAC), Le Doux Patisserie, Yuan Thong Enterprise (YTE), I-Cyber, Syarikat Bukit Ladang and DMC Enterprise - vie for top honours.
Two matches will be held every Friday and Sunday until all teams complete two rounds. The top four will advance into the semi-finals of the competition whereby the crossover matchups will then be contested in a best-of-three series.
MEAC are the favourites, having won the last tournament organised by the BBA. They won the 2013 Aewon Cup with a 93-65 demolition of the Titans in the final back in October last year. The team are made up of former national athletes and spearheaded by the duo of Esmond Tan and Benjamin Lim.
However, MEAC guard Kevin Tay is looking at the bigger picture and is excited with the new league. "This league has been long coming and we are looking to promote basketball in the country," said Tay in an interview with The Brunei Times.
"It is a tournament to boost our local young players. to boost their confidence whereby they will have a chance to shine and represent the country "We hope that this league will be a springboard for them and a platform for them for many years to come," he said.
"We hope we can use our experience and impart them to the young players as they are the future of our country. "We want to enjoy the inaugural league and we are proud to be one of the founding participants of the competition," continued Tay.
Le Doux are a team also made up of ex-national players with the likes of Ben Sim, Muhd Zainul Ashyraf Hj Hussin, Choo Yung Jian and Yap Chun Ping on the roster. Despite the lineup, team manager Wira Pori has played down their chances and believes that YTE have got what it takes to lift the trophy.
"We have no expectations for our team in the league. Regardless of how teams look like on paper, we are looking at YTE being the favourites to lift the crown in the inaugural season," said Wira. "The youngsters (which include familiar faces Lim Liang Wei and Darren Chai) have been playing together and some of their players came off second place in the Inter-Company tournament," he said.
"They may have what it takes to be the next big thing in the Brunei basketball scene. We want to wish the best of luck to all the teams," added Wira. FIBA (International Basketball Association) and FIBA Asia expected the BBA to organise the national league after FIBA Sports Director of Sport and Eligibility Lubomir Kotleba came to the Sultanate in November 2012.
The league is a step towards preparing the Sultanate for future FIBA international competitions. MEAC and YTE will tip off in the curtain raiser at 7pm followed by a matchup between I-Cyber and Syarikat Bukit Ladang at 8.30pm.