Austria-based Cambodian basketball player Steffan Doll-Therro Sao has committed himself to representing his fatherland after meeting with national team coach Austin Koledoye last Thursday. “I am excited with the opportunity to don the colours of my country,” said the 29-year-old point guard who plays for Austrian First Division side FCN-Baskets of Neustadt.
With the national team billed to participate in the 26th SEA Games in Indonesia this November, Koledoye’s squad are set to face the likes of Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia and Brunei, all of which boast domestic leagues and have sides that participate in the AirAsia ASEAN Basketball League.
“We are handicapped as our players train hard but have no chance to be exposed to international competitions, hence the opportunity to have Cambodian born foreign players would surely be a morale booster,” said Koledoye.
Cambodia lost all four games at their last SEA Games appearance in Bangkok in 2007.
“We had only one foreign based player at Thailand 2007 which was not good enough. Had we had three to five foreign players, we surely could have come out with a better performance,” added the coach.
Steffan Doll-Therro Sao, who goes by the nickname Dolli, joined a score of national team players and other locals for a training session on Monday evening at the outside court of the National Sports Complex under the watchful eyes of Koledoye and his assistant Kao Kannaly.
“I just want to play ball. To wear the Cambodian jersey will be a dream come true for me,” said Dolli.
“It’s all about patriotism. I am not coming for the financial gains as I know the situation here already. Helping my country to win something in the SEA Games will give me great pride, which is my main motivation.”
Kao Kannaly admitted that Dolli is a good player and would be a good addition to the team after watching him play. “He looks sharp and has good movement, his positioning is also fantastic and we hope he can fit into the national team set up which will be very good for us going into the SEA Games”
Coach Koledoye is expected to submit a shortlist for the national team by February 15 to the Ministry of Education Youth and Sports, with official training to commence from March. “It has been nearly a year since the players trained seriously and so most of the players must be rusty by now. We will have our work cut out once we start full training again,” he said, adding that he intends to play some friendly
matches against national teams and clubs from the region.