Follow FIBA on Facebook
Wuysang looks back at Asia Cup career and looking forward to future of Indonesia basketball
Jakarta (Indonesia) - Indonesia basketball legend Mario Wuysang is enjoying his retirement by spending quality time with himself and his family. Who can blame him? After nearly 2 decades playing with the national team and leading “Timnas” to a successful stretch in the 2000s, Wuysang deserves to cherish his break away from the game.
Wuysang played in 3 FIBA Asia Cups in 2005, 2007, and 2011 as the floor general of the team, collecting memorable performances along the way. Over those three tournaments, Wuysang led Indonesia in scoring with 11.3 points per game while also putting up 3.6 assists and 3.4 rebounds per contest since 2007.
His Asia Cup debut was on September 8, 2005. While the 5’9” point guard wasn’t able to immediately get a win for Indonesia, he was sure to make an impression.
“It was exciting because I didn’t have any expectations or fear,” Wuysang recalls of his 2005 Asia Cup debut. “I just knew that it was [against] the best teams in Asia and I wanted to prove I could compete with them.”
In his first Asia Cup game, Wuysang put in 18 points against Kazakhstan. Indonesia lost that game 89-62, but it was a good sign for Wuysang who was trying to prove that he was among the best in Asia.
“It was my first game and I wanted to play well. I was young and at that stage in my career I played with a chip on my shoulder.”
Indonesia made a return to the Asia Cup in 2007 and a wiser 28-year-old Wuysang stepped up another level. He led the team in scorer and assists, while also ranked third in rebounds while playing only 19.8 minutes per game. Wuysang’s 14.6 scoring average was good enough to be among the top 15 scorers in the entire Asia Cup that year.
“It felt amazing. I always wanted to prove I could compete at that level,” Wuysang says of the accomplishment that year. His entire performance that tournament stands out as one of the best from an Indonesian player, but there a few games that Wuysang singles out as his favorites.
“Definitely the UAE game because we won in overtime. Very tight game,” Wuysang says, recalling to the 83-81 overtime win by Indonesia in which he scored 22 points and shot 5-8 from beyond the arc. “Also against Syria where I was going up against [Michael] Madanly who was one of the best guards in Asia.”
Madanly had rained in 40 points in that game (which, impressively, wasn’t even his highest total in that tournament) while Wuysang tried to match the Syrian star with 33 points of his own. That total stands as the most by an Indonesian player at the Asia Cup since the turn of the millennium.
“I really enjoyed Asia Cup 2007 in Japan. Great tournament and the country was amazing. That definitely was a very memorable Asia Cup for me.”
That would be the end of the volume-scoring version of Wuysang at the international level as he took a new approach at impacting the Indonesia national team with his play. After missing out playing in the 2009 Asia Cup, Wuysang returned for the 2011 edition. He set a target - and succeeded - to be the best passer in the completion, leading the 2011 Asia Cup with 6.4 assists per game.
“I took this challenge to be the best in assisting at this stage in my career and in the tournament so it felt very good to be able to accomplish that. Passing has always been something I loved to do. The creativity of the art is something that I enjoyed,” Wuysang expressed.
His peak playmaking skills was on display in a win over Bahrain. Wuysang went scoreless for only the second time playing in the Asia Cup, but dished out a tournament-high 11 assists towards an 85-62 win.
“Against Bahrain, I felt like creating easy shots for my teammates and it came easy. It was the flow of the game.”
The win set up Indonesia’s final game in the tournament to go up against a frustrating opponent. Indonesia had faced India in all previous 3 Asia Cups and failed to take down the South Asian nation in all three tries. They came close in 2007, holding a 55-52 lead going into the 4th quarter but eventually lost 72-66. Wuysang put up 11 points, but shot only 1-10 from downtown.
“We faced India quite a few times. They were always a tough opponent,” expressed Wuysang. Yet in what would be his final Asia Cup game, Wuysang put up arguably his best Asia Cup game ever to score an 84-75 win. The Indonesian legend’s Asia Cup swan song had him record 17 points, 8 rebounds, and 7 assists in a win.
“Against India, I felt like the situation needed me to score more in order for us to win the game. Sometimes you have to be able to do different things in order to give your team a chance.”
Wuysang has since retired from international play, but is confident of the future of the Indonesia national team. Having been part of the program for so long, he can see the direction they are headed towards as well as the players that will be stepping up in his role.
“I think [Indonesia] are doing well in the progress of the team and program. I believe they have a good chance in 2021,” claims the veteran. “I think they are building confidence with each year and that the naturalization player selection is also good for Indonesia and will help their chances.”
“I’ve always supported Arki Wisnu,” says Wuysang, vouching for the 31-year-old point forward. “I think he is their leader and most experienced. There are a lot of young guys I like also such as Vincent [Rivaldi Kosasih] and Abraham [Damar Grahita]. They key guys moving on into the future of Indonesia Basketball.”
(Arki Wisnu, Indonesia)
Even though he had already recently turned 40, it’s not hard to imagine Wuysang coming out of retirement to play a leadership role for Indonesia as they seek to qualify for the Asia Cup in 2021. He was still playing a major role professionally in the ASEAN Basketball League (ABL) in 2018 with decent production as well.
Would there be a chance that "Uncle Roe" pulls off a Jordan and un-retires for another run?
“Definitely not as a player,” Wuysang laughs.
“Those days are behind me now. I was blessed to be able to represent the National team for 15 years but now I’m excited to venture into something new. Maybe basketball might come back in my life in some other way, but for now I’m happy where I’m at.”