KUALA LUMPUR: Women's coach of the year Yoong Sze Yuin has challenged her basketball players to reach the semi-finals at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games next month.
After leading Malaysia to back-to-back Sea Games gold medals in 2015 and 2017, Sze Yuin takes her team to face their biggest challenge yet when they come up against Jamaica, New Zealand and India.
Malaysia’s preliminary matches are in Cairns, 2,000km north of the Gold Coast, and they must also get through a playoff in Townsville to actually set foot in the host city, where the semi-finals and final will be held.
"We want to make history and see whether we can play at this level. It would have been better to be with our contingent at the Gold Coast.
"But we have to play in Cairns so our aim is to get to the semi-finals and play in the Gold Coast. This is the target. Can we do it, girls?" Sze Yuin asked her players, who replied with an emphatic "yes!" during the flag handing-over ceremony in Kuala Lumpur on Thursday.
The eight-team tournament on Apr 5-15 is split into two tiers with the four seeded teams placed in Pool A, where the top two advance to the semi-finals, and the next four teams in Pool B.
Malaysia must finish at least second in Pool B to make the qualifying finals in Townsville against one of the bottom two teams from Pool A, effectively a quarter-final for a place in the last-four.
Sze Yuin, who was part of the squad which played at the 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games where Malaysia beat Malta to finish seventh, said the team must overcome a disadvantage in being the shortest at the tournament.
"All the teams have players who are taller and stronger so we will need to know how to adapt," said Sze Yuin, named the women's coach of the year at the 2017 National Sports Awards.
"We have to be good in shooting from outside."
Sze Yuin retained 10 players from last year's Sea Games squad and added rookies Ng Yu Feng and Hiew Ky Lie to the 12-player roster.
SQUAD - Nur Izzati Yaakob (capt), Pang Yui Pin, Chong Yin Yin, Saw Wei Yin, Ooi Poh Yee, Tai Chia Qian, Magdalene Low, R. Kalaimathi, Ng Yu Feng, Hiew Ky Lie, Yap Fook Yee, Eugene Ting.