Thailand's Sirapong Boonyai (C) is challenged by Mongolian players in their men's basketball preliminary Group A game between Thailand and Mongolia during the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta.
Thailand's Sirapong Boonyai (C) is challenged by Mongolian players in their men's basketball preliminary Group A game between Thailand and Mongolia during the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta.

Nailbiting Asian Games win for Thai basketballers after 20-year absence

sports August 15, 2018 01:00

By Lerpong Amsa-ngiam
The Nation

4,138 Viewed

The Thailand’s men’s basketball team had a nailbiting return to the Asian Games on Tuesday, edging past Mongolia 87-86 in a group A preliminary match at the GBK Kasketball Hall in Jakarta.



It was a first Asian Games appearance for the men’s team in 20 years after they had failed to meet the criteria of the Sports Authority of Thailand (SAT). 

The SAT previously sent only athletes or teams that had attained a top-three finish in the SEA Games or a top-five finish at continental level. 

This year, however, such requirements were dropped in line with a new sports development policy.

Thailand made a great start and led 26-14 in the first quarter but struggled after two key players, Nakorn Jaisanook and Chitchai Ananti, went off with injuries.

Mongolia closed to within six points, 62 – 68, in the third quarter but fell agonisingly short.

Thailand’s next game is against Indonesia on August 20.

In the women’s handball, 2014 silver medallists Japan tamed Thailand 41-16 in a Group B preliminary round encounter. 

Thailand will next play Indonesia on Thursday.

Nualphan Lamsam (left) and Suchawadee Nildhamrong (middle) with the AFF Cup trophy.

Meanwhile, women’s football manager Nualphan Lamsam said it had been harder than ever to secure the services of American-Thai Suchawadee Nildhamrong as her club California Golden Bears also needed her.

Suchawadee – aka Miranda – was a key player as Thailand reached the semi-final of the Asian Cup in Jordan in April, an achievement  which also earned the team a berth at the 2019 World Cup finals in France.

“Miranda is also needed by her club which has many matches from August 17. The Club has to let several players to play in the national team, which is why it was reluctant to allow her to join us,” said Nualphan.

“Her family, coach and I had to work hard to get approval from her club. But it’s really worth it as our team is in need good players.”

Suchawadee is due to join her teammates in Jakarta on Wednesday and wishes to face Japan in the opening game against Japan in Group C on Thursday. 

Thailand need to finish second in the group in order to reach the knock-out stage, meaning they must beat Vietnam in the three-team group.

“The game against Vietnam is very important so we need to keep Miranda fresh for that. If she is tired from her flight, we might decide to rest her in the game with Japan,” Nualphan said.

Thailand suffered a blow when main goalkeeper Waraporn Boonsing was forced to sit out training due to injury.

Suchawadee is due to join her teammates in Jakarta today and wishes to face Japan in the opening game against Japan in Group C on Thursday. Thailand need to finish second in the group in order to reach the knock-out stage which means they must beat Vietname in the three-team group.

 “The game against Vietnam is very important so we need to keep Miranda fresh for that. If she is tired from her flight, we might decide to rest her in the game with Japan,” Nualphan said.