US basketball team gives Myanmar tough lesson

MYANMAR’S basketball federation team (MBF) played two friendly games against a USA youth team last week, part of a two month visiting sports development program by Vision Sports.

Despite a lack of basketball culture in Myanmar, MBF held their own against the US team, losing 98-110 on July 5 and 104-106 on July 3 at Yangon’s Aung San Stadium.

Vision Sports is in Myanmar on a two month basketball tour at the request of MBF to help them with training in preparation for the 27th SEA Games hosted in Myanmar next year.

The program is headed by Scott Duke, who is training the men’s basketball team, while his wife, Wendy Duke, is training the women’s basketball team.

“They [MBF players] improved a lot in these three games [the first was a basketball aptitude test on July 1],” Mr Duke, the coach and director of Vision Sports, told The Myanmar Times.

He said he helped the MBF players play to their strengths in a short passing game and focus on shooting close to the hoop to counter the height advantage of the American players.

“American players are stronger because the are taller and also more skillful. For example Ty Green [a Vision Sports player] … started playing basketball with a trainer at five years old. But the Myanmar guys have no need to be discouraged because of that. Effort can overcome all limitations,” he said.

He said the aim of Vision Sports is to use sports as a mediator to break down barriers and promote intercultural relations. The company has focused on East and Southeast Asia, and Mr Duke said he is no stranger to the state of sport development in the region.

“Myanmar needs to upgrade its sports from top to bottom. Myanmar players need to start playing sports at an early age together with a trainer. At the moment [the country] is lacking instructors and equipment,” he said.

Admitting that basketball is not a hugely popular sport in Myanmar, he encouraged Myanmar basketball players to raise their profile and inspire more people to take up the sport.

“The game is supposed to be fun whether it is a national favourite or not. I told them to play for fun. Kids at school will be looking to them as their stars one day. I encouraged them to try hard to make that their target,” he said.

Vision Sports is in Myanmar until the end of July and a woman’s team from the US is set to come for a week to play two friendlies with the MBF women’s team on July 16 and 18.
Courtesy: The Myanmar Times

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