01 November, 2017
01 February, 2019
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Uplifting run by Macau inspires promising future down the road

NONTHABURI (FIBA Asia Cup 2021 Eastern Region Pre-Qualifiers) – There were only 2.1 seconds left in the last game of the FIBA Asia Cup 2021 Eastern Region Pre-Qualifiers between Macau and Singapore. Macau were trailing 96-93, but had possession and were ready to inbound the ball.

If this played out right, Macau could possibly extend their campaign by five more minutes or actually end up with a win, if they were lucky.

Star point guard, Lam Teng Long, was assigned to inbound the ball with Singapore’s Leon Kwek jumping up and down wildly to create distraction. With 4.0 assists per game, he was ranked 8th in the entire Pre-Qualifiers but all he needed was one more assist here in the dying seconds.

Ieong Kei Long was Macau’s first target, rushing to the corner off double screens. Their second option, Kou Chong Kei, was then supposed to shoot up through pin screens to the top of the key for an alternative clean look. Both Long and Kei had made 4 thee-pointers each so far in the game and seemed like the best bet to get the game-tying basket.

Instead, the ball went to the hands of Lo Hip Meng.

“The play was originally draw as me being the third option,” Meng admitted after the game. “The first and second option failed, so I was actually shocked.”

It wasn’t extremely surprising that Meng would be taking what was about to be Macau’s last shot of the competition. Though he was only 1-4 from downtown at the point, he was leading the team with 20 points in the game and 13.6 PPG in the tournament. If that wasn’t enough to make him confident to take the last shot, Lam Teng Long’s pep talk during the huddle prior to the play did the job.

“As a playmaker, I encouraged all the shooters to let it fly,” Long said of what went down in the huddle. “Don’t doubt any of their shots. Don’t think. Just let it fly.”

Meng got the inbound pass, took one dribble, didn’t think, didn’t doubt, and he let it fly.

“Once I got the ball, I was still glad to be able to create some space and get a pretty decent look,” Meng said.

“I was just upset that it didn’t go in.”

The ball had promising trajectory but clanged off the rim as the buzzer sounded, not only signalling the end of the game but the end of Macau’s journey in FIBA Asia Cup 2021 qualification.

They weren’t able to collect a win in any of their 5 games throughout the tournament, but that wasn’t going to let them down.

“I was excited,” Meng said of his experience. “Very, very excited about it because we do not get as many opportunities coming out to such big tournaments. We spent a couple months preparing and we’re pretty happy about being a part of this.”

“I’m really honored to be here,” Lam Teng Long adds. “Compared to other, we’re a really small team but we always brought the biggest fight. We’re really proud that we brought our own game and attitude to this tournament and we’re all really glad to be here.”

Despite being winless, Macau never gave up and always fought back whatever the score was or how much time was left in the game. They were one of the loudest teams in the competition, whether is was cheering on a made basket by a teammate or hyping each other up before tipoff.

“Compared to other teams, we do not have any professional basketball players,” Meng said. “All of us are amateur ballers but once we came here, we had the mentality of challenging. We always want to give over 100% of our efforts to challenge as much as we can, so despite of the score or any situation, we fought all that we could.”

It was an uplifting effort by Macau, but also an eye-opening experience for what they needed to work on towards the future. They displayed that they have the spirit and effort to be able to stay competitive (as seen in games against Malaysia and Singapore) but also exhibited their gaping weaknesses which they need to address.

“We’ve experienced major differences in physicality out here so we would like to develop in strength and skills overall as basketball players,” expressed Meng. “So that once we come out next time, there won’t be that much of a difference in terms of physical appearance and strength.”

Though Macau are already out of the running to qualify for the FIBA Asia Cup 2021, fans can be sure that whenever the call comes for them to play on the big stage again, they will be prepared.

“We’re not certain when the next big tournament is coming, but we’ll always be ready to build on our stamina, defense, and personal skills,” said team captian, Lam Teng Long.

“As long as we build up on that, we’ll be ready for the next tournament.”