The Cambodian national basketball team train in the dimly lit inside sports hall of Olympic Stadium Tuesday under the watchful eye of Coach Koledoye (bottom right).
CAMBODIAN national basketball team coach Augustine Koledoye has returned from a month long visit to the US and Canada, where he was searching for Cambodian-born talent to draft into the national team ahead of a busy schedule of games coming up in the later part of the year.
"I have been scouting around for Cambodian-American players, and I found three good players in LA," said Koledoye by telephone, moments after he arrived in Phnom Penh airport. "In fact there are many of them, but I only have hope on those three because the rest are just a bunch of street players."
Many Cambodian players whose families were relocated to the US play for community-based teams in an Asian League. "The players are quite good," remarked Koledoye. "But for their height, they would be able to find their way into the NBA."
According to the Nigerian-born coach, the tallest he was able to find was only 6-foot-2 (1.88 metres), significantly under the NBA players' average height of 6 foot 7 inches, and dwarfed by the likes of China's 7-foot-6 superstar Yao Ming.
Koledoye declined to reveal the players' identities until further discussions with the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports, but remains confident that they will commit to coming to play for Cambodia in the future. The coach said he has already presented a plan of the team to the players and hopes they can honour a call up to the national team.
The coach also stated that basketball at the SEA Games in December is still in the balance, as the host country Laos has requested to write off the discipline due to lack of facilities. However, regional basketball superpowers Thailand, Malaysia and the Philippines are unhappy with Laos' decision and are seeking an alternative venue.
Koledoye, who doubles as sports director and after school coordinator at Northbridge International School, revealed that Thailand are prepared to host the event in a town close to Laos border, but has received no official verdict yet. "The big basketball countries want to offer help ... but Laos is not budging," complained the Cambodia coach. .
Photos by Nick Sells (www.nicksellsphotography.com)