Malaysia's promising young team is making another run in the qualifiers


World Cup : You are forgiven if you have lost track of the Malaysia national team in recent years. They got as far as the Pre-Qualifiers the last time around, but couldn’t make it to the big tournament in Indonesia.

However, they have returned to the tournament, beginning their campaign once again in the Pre-Qualifiers, so it would be unwise to write them out so fast.

It’s possible that the following fact has been forgotten by Asia Cup followers: Malaysia defeated Indonesia and then battled Thailand head-to-head in the previous Pre-Qualifiers. The primary members of that team, who were just 22 or 23 at the time, are now back in Mongolia with the benefit of hindsight and newfound knowledge.

Most of us have been playing together for a long time, so that’s our team’s strength, according to Jeff Viernes.

The change from Brian Lester to Viernes as head coach is one of the most notable distinctions between the 2019 Pre-Qualifiers and the 2018 version. The Filipino head coach should have little trouble establishing rapport with the squad despite being inexperienced at the international level. Viernes has been the head coach of the Negeri Semibilan (NS) Matrix, a professional team in Malaysia, for a number of years.

As a matter of fact, Viernes’ relationship with the team’s talents, such as Wong Yi Hou, Ting Chun Hong, and Kuek Tian Yuan, extends far deeper than that of coach and player.

Most of the guys on this squad were my teammates for over five years before I became their head coach, he added.


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Point guard Viernes has had a career that has taken him all throughout Southeast Asia, from the Philippines to Thailand to Singapore to Malaysia. It was in Malaysia that he really felt at home, where he served as a seasoned point guard before eventually becoming the head coach of the national team.

The other players have also expanded their responsibilities as Viernes has taken on more responsibility.

At the age of 23, Ting led Malaysia in scoring at the most recent Pre-Qualifiers, averaging 13.6 points per game. The guy they nickname “Mei Mei” is quickly becoming Malaysia’s go-to player on the international stage. He was recently named Most Valuable Player (MVP) of the FilBasket International Championship for his outstanding performance that helped his side win the event.

Tem Zhen Jie, a younger player sometimes referred to as the “Malaysian Terrence Romeo,” is only one example.

These athletes have put in the time and effort to improve their game whenever possible, whether it be in national or international events. The moment has arrived to demonstrate how far they’ve gone on the international stage. At the very least, Coach Viernes is certain that his players can show off their progress.

Viernes said, “I can notice the progress notably in their talents and even their shooting.” We need to maintain our strong defensive play and accurate shooting throughout the qualifiers.

“I believe Malaysian players now have the talents and enthusiasm to wow others and excite spectators!”

Malaysians would want to put on a show for their supporters in Ulaanbaatar’s UG Arena, but winning would be even better. The Harimau face tough opposition from countries like Thailand, Vietnam, Tahiti, and even the hosts, Mongolia.

Viernes has complete faith in his squad once again.

“As the national team’s coach, I can say with confidence that we will be fielding a completely new lineup for the next Pre-Qualifiers. We need as many victories as possible to make it to the next round. We anticipate becoming successful in Mongolia.”

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