KUCHING: The Sarawak men’s and women’s basketball teams have been challenged to win gold medals in Sukma XIX in Perak.
Sarawak State Sports Council (MSNS) sports development division manager Ahmad Rodzi Hashim, who handed over the Sarawak flag to the state women’s team, said the flag signifies honour and they must not let Sarawak down in Perak.
“Go for the golds as Sarawak have set a target of 77 golds so it is imperative that you aim for the gold,” Rodzi told the team at the Catholic High School on Thursday.
He was representing Sarawak Sports Corporation (SSC) chief executive officer Dr Ong Kong Swee.
Rodzi also encouraged team officials to continue in the development of the game as it is very important to keep it alive at the grass roots level.
The women cagers, currently undergoing their centralised training in Sibu, will depart to Perak on Sept 13.
The team also missed the Sarawak Contingent Camp flag-handing over ceremony this weekend due to flight booking constraints.
A day earlier in Miri, Rodzi also presented the state colours to the men’s team who are training at the Krokop Stadium.
Men’s head coach Lau Bik Ing said the team have to be positive and aim for the gold.
In response to the gold-medal challenge, the Australia-trained coach said Sarawak have a fighting chance given their hard work and preparations.
“Why not, we are being challenged to win the gold and we take up the challenge.
“I believe in hard work and sacrifice and we know it’s going to be tough but we are in for a good fight.
“In our one-week training/exposure stint in Australia where we played against club and high school teams, we learnt the physical part of the game and we expect a tough fight in the coming Sukma.
“Australians play differently as they are more physical in the game while Malaysians focus more and speed and shooting.”
He said Sarawak were among the top teams in the past as they finished among the top five in Perlis Sukma four years ago.
However, his main concern now is injuries in the team with player Izaan Johaan Sallih also in the list.
He thanked the SSC, especially Dr Ong and Rodzi for making the efforts to come to Miri and present the state flag, uniforms and playing gear.
Lau said he hoped to continue to work closely with the MSNS and SSC in the development of basketball in the schools throughout the state.