Their only consolation then was that they did not finish last in the tournament, having beat Uzbekistan 78-30 in the 13th-14th placing match.
His confidence in the team came about after an encouraging outing in the Seaba tournament.
“In the opening game, we lost to Thailand by only eight points (58-66) and that was due to their nervousness of playing for the first time. The Thai players were a lot taller and that added to their anxiety,” said Kian Ann, who came in as the under-16 coach in January this year.
“During the match against a strong Filipino team, we were trailing by 17 points in the last quarter with eight minutes to go. We did a quick change in tactics by replacing a player and we scored four three-pointers within two minutes, ending up only losing by four points,” he said.
They won other matches against Singapore 90-57 and Indonesia 78-50.
Kian Ann has been working with the short-listed 14 players to improve their personal skills and stamina.
All the players live in the Malaysia Basketball Association (Maba) dormitories located within the premises in Jalan Hang Jebat, Kuala Lumpur, and most of them go to school at the neighbouring SMK Confucian, making it easier for them to attend the 12 sessions of training every week.
“We had to release several players who were sitting for their PMR trials and they will be working extra hard because they will sit for the actual exams in early October,” he said.
The players played a friendly match in Taiwan last week to give them the exposure ahead of the Fiba Asia tournament.
To beef up the coaching set-up, Maba has appointed two young coaches for the junior national team.
Kian Ann, who has Ramesh Chandra, 28, as his assistant, said the younger coaches were roped in late last year.
“We find that younger coaches can relate better to the junior players. The younger coaches also have a better grasp of skill-improving training techniques which have worked well for the players,” said deputy secretary-general Looi Seng Loong.
“They are both full-time coaches and they can fully concentrate on developing the team,” he said.
*Sumber Dari The Star