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Sunday, 13 August 2017 | MYT 12:00 AM

Men’s basketball team hope to emulate class of 1989

KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian men’s basketball team dare to dream big for the KL SEA Games.

They are hopeful of ending the Philippines’ domination of the sport by stealing the gold medal away from them.

And the relatively young Malaysian squad can certainly draw inspiration from the victorious 1989 KL Games team, who were present at the handover of the Jalur Gemilang for the Aug 19-30 Games by Transport Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai at the Maba Stadium yesterday.

The class of 1989 – led by Yap Swee Sim, Tan Kim Chin and Ooi Guan Siu – stunned the mighty Philippines 107-99 for Malaysia’s only gold medal in SEA Games history.

It was also the Philippines’ only loss to a South-East Asian country. The Filipinos went on to win the next 11 Games in a row for a total of 17 gold medals.

“It was a true honour to have the class of ’89 hand over the flag to Datuk Seri Liow to then give it to us today,” said 19-year-old American-born forward Perry Lim.

“They’ve won the gold before. Hopefully, we can emulate their feat.

“It’s definitely a challenge for us, but we’ve prepared ourselves well enough and I believe we definitely have a chance to win gold.”

The 1.95m Perry, who made a smashing debut with an average of 18 points during Malaysia’s six-match tour of New Zealand last month, is also delighted to be in the final 12-man roster for the Games.

Liow, meanwhile, hoped that the men’s team would win the gold medal, which would be the best “Merdeka” gift for Malaysia.

“This will be the best gift as we celebrate Merdeka Day. I have high hopes on the men and women’s teams,” he said.

Malaysia are in Group A with the Philippines, Thailand and Myanmar. Group B comprises Indonesia, Singapore, Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos.

Only the top two teams will qualify for the semi-finals.

In women’s competition, defending gold medallists Malaysia will face Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines, Singapore, Vietnam and Myanmar in a round-robin format.