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Cambodian Player to Star In 2012 Asian Basketball League

By: Ken Gadaffi Posted: December-21-2011 in
Sopoeun Oeun Stars for Saigon Heat in a pre ABL tournament in Thailand Last week
Ken Gadaffi

Cambodia’s basketball player Sopouen Oeun has signed for Saigon Heat to play in the 2012 Asian Basketball League. The new entrant to the Asian Basketball League from Vietnam snapped up the Cambodian guard following his scintillating performance at the SEA games in Indonesia.

The Fresno based Cambodian basketball player starred for the Saigon Heats in the 4-day “To Be Number One Basketball Challenge” in Bangkok last week.

Sopoeun Ouen, 25, was one of the four foreign based basketball players Cambodia invited for the SEA Games and was outstanding in all 12 games the team played prior and during the SEA games. Sop as he is popularly called was Cambodia’s top scorer in all but one of the 12 games inspiring the team to 5 wins in all competition.

The Cambodia National Team played 1-1 draw in a double header with the Saigon based team in a pre- SEA games friendly and went on to take part in the China-Asean Invitational tournament where they won three games and lost three to finish 7th in the nine team tournament. Sopouen Ouen shone along with Boroth Thach and Pek Mith in the SEA games but unfortunately, the team failed to progress beyond the group stage winning only one of the four matches played to finish 7th in the SEA Games.

The Saigon Heat is Vietnam’s first professional basketball club and was formed under the Saigon Sports Academy by team owners Mr. Henry Nguyen and Mr. Connor Nguyen. The launch of the Saigon Heat is designed to inspire Vietnam’s youth to not only improve their sporting skills but to also chase their own sports goals and dreams took place last October in Ho Chi Minh City.

The AirAsia ASEAN Basketball League is a professional basketball league founded by Tan Sri Dato’ Sri Dr Tony Fernandes in response to what seems like a sports development scene in South East Asia that has stagnated. The idea of the league was to kick start a professional league that would be able to create strong teams that would be run as corporations and to ensure professional management, discipline and most importantly development of the game from a grass roots level.

Meanwhile negotiations are still going between Sop’s team mate Pek Mith with Indonesia Warriors of Jakarta. Pek Mith, 26, met with club owner Erick Thohir and Coach Todd Purves after the SEA games tournaments and and invitation was extended to the Califonia based Forward to join the Warriors for the 2012 ABL.

Sopeoun during a press conference at the 26th SEA Games

“We saw Pek’s displays during the SEA games and feel he will be a good addition to the team”stated Coach Todd Purves. “I am looking at him being a good point guard for the team in the next season, his ball handling is quite impressive and hopefully he can be a good acquisition for us” the former Sacramento Coach said.

Meanwhile, Indonesia magnate and owner of the Britana Arena based club Indonesia warriors said that the idea of extending invitation to Cambodian players is to spread the game across the region and would be glad to see a Cambodia team joining the ABL in the near future.

“We have 8 teams from 5 countries already in the ABL and will like more countries to be involved but where they cannot send a team, we would be happy to give their players opportunity to play in the ABL with other teams” he stated.

Swedish based Boroth Thach’s talks with Chinese team Guanxi fell through after the team falied to match the 29 year old’s asking price. “They indicated interest in me but what they are willing to offer did not match my expectation hence I decided to return to Sweden”says Boroth Thach.

With Sopoeun’s deal with Saigon heat haven been sealed and hopefully Pek Mith joins Indonesia Warriors, this will give a lift to Cambodian Basketball Players and hopefully lift the game up in the kingdom.


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