KUCHING: The Hockey Association of Sarawak (HAS)’s TNB Sarawak Hockey League champions Warriors will be looking to defend their title when the men’s league starts in August.
The TNB’s junior draw started last weekend with SMK Paku making their case as top dog in the competition.
The blue ribbon men’s Open has eight teams from six clubs in the fray. Warriors and Borneo Heights HT (BHHT) both have entered two teams each.
BHHT is an amalgamation of UNIXX and Belia Git clubs as they are both made up of players living in the same area.
BBHT A are made up of senior players while the B team will be composed of juniors.
Warrior A, playing as One XOX in 2018, are the defending champions as HAS had insisted that they have to register the original team from last season.
They and 11 RAMD, last season’s losing finalists, are the two seeded teams. As a result, they are drawn in two separate groups in the first round.
Warrior A are in Group A along with BHHT B, Borneo Young Blood, and Muara Tuang Old Boys.
11 RAMD head Group B along with BHHT A, Warrior B and Kuching Hockey Association.
BBHT’s Dangerous Lee Mathew is hopeful that combining UNIXX and Belia Git will result in a stronger challenge for the title.
“We are really confident we can mount a better fight against the strong teams like Warrior and RAMD this time round,” said Dangerous, a former national team player.
Bukit Jalil grad Cristnall Michael will captain their A team.
There will be no women’s Open in this year’s TNB.
“We could not get enough teams to participate. Some of the junior teams offered to play in the Open but we did not think it was a good idea,” said HAS secretary Kangot Awan.
They did that last year which resulted in lopsided scores.
“I really did not care to see that again. It looked terrible in the reports we have to submit later,” said Kangot.
The junior draw have five teams each in the boys and girls U16 draws.
SMK Paku head in the boys’ draw which included SMK Bako, SMK Semerah Padi, Sakura and Sekolah Seni.
In the girls’ draw, SMK Paku will have to contend with Sakura, SMK Bako, Sekolah Seni and Squad G2020.
Paku are the clear favourites in both draws as they are Sarawak’s unofficial hockey project school.