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Silver Hopes, Golden Dreams
As The Malaysian Basketball Association (MABA) gears up to host the SEA Games, its historic and iconic stadium undergoes a rebirth.
The Malaysian Basketball Association, or MABA as it is more commonly known, recently underwent extensive stadium renovations totalling more than RM3 million to prepare for the upcoming SEA Games this month. The stadium, which was built in 1995, has hosted events such as the 2001 SEA Games as well as the Champions Cup in which club teams from all over Asia came to compete to be crowned cream of the crop.
Despite being the last national coach to have bagged a medal for our men’s basketball team in the 2007 SEA Games, Sim Sin Heng who is the current Secretary General of MABA, carries himself with an air of humility, stating that his efforts have and always will be about promoting the sport of basketball within the country.
Sim Sin Heng was the head coach for the national men’s basketball team in 2007. The team won bronze in that year’s SEA Games.
“My first statement to the press back then in 2007 was that we would win at least a Silver medal or I would quit. It was meant as a challenge to the team to work even harder,” he says. “However, we got bronze and being a man of my word, I gave up my post,” adds Sim, who’s been involved in the sport since 1992.
“During the 2001 SEA Games, the entire stadium was sold out and there were massive crowds clamouring to get in. We had to set up CCTVs and project the games onto screens outside the stadium for the fans to watch,” he recounts with a smile.
Apart from hosting tournaments and championships, Sim explains that the stadium serves as the training ground for both the Malaysian national team as well as the youth teams. MABA House, a 12-story building adjacent to the stadium acts as a canteen, library, office space and hostel for both players and officials.
According to Sim, MABA’s role as part of the National Sports Federation is to “develop the game of basketball, make it more popular in Malaysia and to change the perception that it is a Chinese game”. In an effort to promote the game to a more diverse audience, MABA hosts a non-Chinese tournament known as the MABA Cup which has been running since 1995. Besides that, MABA also invites a number of sekolah berasrama penuh (boarding schools) to host their tournaments at the stadium throughout the year.
When asked about our prospects in the upcoming SEA Games in August, Sim has this to say, “For the women they have been incredible and we aim to retain our gold medal that we won during the Singapore 2015 SEA Games. For the men, we believe that a silver placed finish is a realistic and achievable target.”
“The signs have been positive and it’s about time we brought a men’s medal back to Malaysia especially since we will have home advantage here in our MABA Stadium.”
Sim also believes that the standard of basketball in the country can only improve if the sport occupies a greater place in the general public’s awareness.
“If you flip through the back pages of our local newspapers, most of the focus will be on football. But if we are able to elevate the level of basketball by winning tournaments like the SEA games, I strongly believe that one day this beloved sport of ours will have equal footing.”
With an entire nation united behind the national team for the upcoming SEA games, the recent rebirth of the MABA stadium, and passionate individuals like Sim leading the charge, exciting times lie ahead for the future of Malaysian basketball.
Address: MABA Stadium, 6 Jalan Hang Jebat, 50150 Kuala Lumpur.
By Gavin Gan
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