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Sunday, September 30, 2001

Basketball - Petronas to take on Sabah in final

KUALA LUMPUR: As expected, the Petronas basketball team swept into their third consecutive final of the national non-Chinese tournament, the Petronas Cup, when they brushed aside Johor 85-59 in the semi-final the MABA-DBKL Stadium yesterday.

The score actually flattered the southern state as the well-oiled Petronas side opened up a 53-20 lead at half-time and then threw in their second-stringers into the fray after the national team’s five of K.Satyaseelan, Andrew Mulhearn, Oliver Segas Tingin, Abdul Karim Yusoff and Fadlysham Ismail had done the damage.

Playing four 10-minute quarters, Petronas raced to a commanding 28-10 lead at the end of the first quarter and dictated the pace of the game with their disciplined attack and defence that left the Johor side stumped.

Petronas continued to outscore Johor in each following quarters except for the last when they stepped off the gas after realising that the result was beyond doubt while leading 75-41 at the end of the third quarter.

Ramesh Chandra top scored for Petronas with 17 points, hitting three three-pointers while Andrew Mul-hearn chipped in with 16.

The corporate team, however, suffered a setback when international Satyaseelan limped out halfway through the second quarter with a sprained ankle. He will miss today’s final.

That, however, did not bother assistant team manager Mohd Zamry Zainuddin too much. He felt the team had enough depth to take on anyone in the final although he preferred to meet Sarawak, a team they had beaten in the group-stage.

"We will not take any team for granted in the final but I believe we have what it takes to win the title for the third straight year."

"We have actually reached our goal by making the final and I will tell the boys to just play their game and we should be fine," said Zamry.

Zamry, however, will not get his wish in the final today.

Petronas will face Sabah, not Sarawak.

The Sabahans, making their return to the competition after a one-year absence, whipped their Borneo neighbours Sarawak 97-64 in the other semi-final.

Semi-finals: Petronas 85 Johor 59, Sabah 97 Sarawak 64

Ninth placing playoff: Perak 76 Tereng-ganu 54

Seventh placing playoff: Negri Sembilan 85 Armed Forces 77.

Fifth placing playoff: Kuala Lumpur vs Selangor (3pm).

Third placing playoff: Johor vs Sarawak (4.45pm).

Final: Petronas vs Sabah (6.45pm).

Source: The Star

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SEA Games - Rewards for Sabah medallists

By Fred Leong

RM1,000 for gold medal in Kuala Lumpur SEA Games

KOTA KINABALU: All eleven Sabah Sea Games medal winners will receive added incentives from the state government for their commendable feats in Kuala Lumpur.

The Culture, Youth and Sports Development Ministry, through the Sabah Sports Council (SSC) will also reward Sabah athletes who won gold, silver and bronze medals in the games.

This is in addition to the RM5,000 promised by the National Sports Council to gold medal winners.

Malaysia created history by bagging a total of 111 gold medals – surpassing its target of 80.

Sports minister Datuk Yahya Husin yesterday announced the cash incentives to all the eleven athletes – RM1000 for a gold medal, RM750 for a silver and RM500 for a bronze medal.

Speaking to the media after inspecting the on-going works on the Sukma venues at the Likas Stadium yesterday, the minister confirmed that they have decided to reward all medal winners.

He said, these handouts will be held to coincide with the Sabah Sports Award 2000 presentation night, where the organisers are expected to make known the date and venue soon.

Swimming heroes Alex Lim Keng Liat and Elvin Chia of Sandakan will certainly be in for a bountiful harvest for having contributed three gold medals each, along with fellow Sabahans sailors Kelly Yin and Sandra Yin, karateka Rayner Kinsiong and woman cager Liew Sheau Voon.

Alex took the gold in the 200m and 100m (record) backstroke events and the men’s medley quartet, Elvin in the 200m, 100m and also in the men’s medley quartet.

Kelly shone in the international 470 event and Sandra in the optimist team, and she (Sandra) gets an extra of RM750 for her silver in the girl’s individual optimist, Rayner in the below 75kg kumite and Liew in the women’s basketball team.

This means, Alex and Elvin will be receiving RM16,000 each, Sandra with RM6,000 plus RM 750 for the silver, Kelly and Rayner with RM6,000 each and Liew with RM1,500.

Source: New Sabah Times

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Friday, September 28, 2001

M-Cup - Crocs lose bite and FA start inquiry

By RIZAL ABDULLAH

JOHOR BARU: Sarawak football has been rocked again – just three months after five of their players were arrested for alleged drug abuse.

The Crocs suffered a humiliating 0-4 defeat by Premier II club side Negri Sembilan Chempaka in a Malaysia Cup Group B match at the Tuanku Abdul Rahman Stadium in Paroi last week and the FA of Sarawak (FAS) are smelling something fishy.

The FAS have launched an internal inquiry into the debacle before deciding on the next course of action.

In the match against Chempaka, several Sarawak players were said to have “performed well below par” and the FAS want to get to the bottom of it.

After the defeat, coach Jalil Ramli said: “The players had the tendency to lose possession of the ball easily.”

The team’s inconsistency prompted Jalil Ramli to bench or drop several senior players for the match against Pahang in Kuching last Tuesday.

A goal by 38-year-old skipper Mohd Ali Sapiee in injury time earned Sarawak a 1-1 draw and kept alive their hopes to qualify for the quarter-finals.

Sarawak had started well, beating Kelantan 2-0, in the opening match of their Malaysia Cup campaign.

For the match against Pahang, striker Halim Jantan, who score the two goals against Kelantan, was not even on the bench. Also missing were defender Jeffery Untam and striker G. Muthu, who has spent more time on the sidelines than on the field because of injury.

Several other seniors, including goalkeeper Mazlan Wahid and veteran defender Zaidel Sakup, were on the bench.

Jeffery was drafted into the team after the five players were busted for alleged drug abuse in Kuching on June 23.

The “Infamous Five” – former national winger Nazri Yunos, defender Samsul Napiah, strikers Safri Amit and Abang Zaafari Abang Othman and reserve goalkeeper Firdaus Ishak – were later sacked from the team.

The FAS president, Datuk Taha Ariffin, is not taking the recent inept performances by the team lying down. On Wednesday, he hauled up Halim and Jeffery for questioning.

Jalil is expected to continue keeping several of the senior players out of the team for the second round matches but much will depend on the ongoing investigations.

Sarawak are in third place in the standings with four points. Chempaka lead the pack with six points – one point more than Pahang.

Sarawak will play against Pahang at the Darulmakmur Stadium in Kuantan on Tuesday followed by another away match against Kelantan on Oct 6. They wrap up their group fixtures at home against Chempaka on Oct 9.

Source: The Star

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Swimming - Elvin Chia asked "What apology?"

By Fred Leong

KOTA KINABALU: Malaysia’s swimmer and gold medallist, Elvin Chia has again blasted a local daily for not correctly publishing his clarification over their front page report on him last Sept 21.

Clearly infuriated, Elvin said although his press statement was published on the front page of the Daily Express the following day, it was made out as an apology with the headline ‘Elvin apologises for any misunderstanding over statement’.

"I never apologised or even hinted at an apology in my press statement. In fact I wanted them to apologise for their false report on me.

"I am truly disappointed not only with their earlier report but also the way they manipulated my clarification to make it seem as though it was my fault. My family including my parents are also angry and dejected," he said.

Elvin added that such an irresponsible act could also unnecessarily strain his relationship with the National Sports Council, Association Swimming Union of Malaysia, Olympic Council of Malaysia and the Government that had sponsored his training and studies in the United States for five years.

In the Sept 21 report, Daily Express had portrayed Elvin as not only being unpatriotic but motivated by money and insinuated that he had threatened the Government by saying he would swim for Singapore.

However, Elvin explained that although it was true that he received an offer by the island republic to swim for them, he would swim for Malaysia for as long as the country paid for his training.

"As long as Malaysia pays for my training I will swim for the country no matter how much Singapore or any other country will pay me," he said in his earlier statement.

The 24-year-old former US-based Asian swimming ace spoke exclusively to New Sabah Times Sport from his home in Sandakan yesterday. He is at present taking a break after his three-gold medal feat (100m and 200m breaststroke and medley relay) together with fellow Sabahan Alex Lim Keng Liat in the recent SEA Games.

"I never apologised to the newspaper and in fact wanted them to apologise for their inaccurate report on me, and for them to publish that I apologised over a mistake they made was totally uncalled for," the furious Elvin said.

"I am very disappointed by the way the earlier report and my clarification statement were published, not as I had anticipated and even my family including my father and mother too were angry and dejected," he added.

The four-time SEA Games gold medallist had in fact spoken to New Sabah Times Sport on the eve of his second golden splash (200m breaststroke) in the SEA Games. He said he planned to open up a swimming school in Kuala Lumpur if his services were not needed or if NSC decided not to sponsor his training expenses for the 2002 Asian Games in Pusan, South Korea.

The Sandakan-born swimmer, who was grateful for all parties concerned for their assistance and support all this while also confirmed that he might call it quits as age is catching up. He, however, said he loves to give a final try in the 2002 Asian Games not for Singapore, but for Malaysia.

In his clarification statement, Elvin said that as long as Malaysia sponsors his training, he will surely swim for the country no matter how much Singapore or any other country pays him.

He was and always is proud to swim for Malaysia and is always ever ready to repay the country for the opportunity and care they have given him while in the United States.

If his services are no longer needed after the Asian Games, he believes that it is normal for him to search for opportunities elsewhere to continue with his training and swimming.

Referring to his plan to set up a swimming school in Kuala Lumpur, he added, if things turn out well, he will have the company of former national swimmer Mark Wah, and national swimming aces Jeffrey Ong and Wan Azlan of Selangor to run the academy.

He also said that within these few days, he and his partners-to-be will be going to Singapore to meet another former kingpin Ong Peng Siong, an established coach who runs a swimming school there.

They expect to meet and talk about the set up of their proposal and try to learn all the valuable tips from the expert in an effort to make their aspiration materialise.

It is hoped that his visit to Singapore this time around will not be misinterpreted by unfair and incorrect reporting.

Source: New Sabah Times

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M-Cup - Worden accepts defeat to Penang

By FRANCIS XAVIER

KOTA KINABALU: Coach Ken Worden accepted the Rhinos’ 0-5 defeat to Penang and said Sabah needs a mighty effort in order to make the cut into the quarterfinals of the prestigious Malaysia Cup competition.

"Yes, I think we can beat them (Penang) here, although we have been beaten badly. It will take a mighty effort and I don’t know if the players have it in them," Worden told reporters upon the team’s arrival from Penang here yesterday.

Commenting on the Rhinos’ biggest defeat under his care, the Aussie explained: "Firstly, we never had any time to prepare and practice (for the match). We had a game on Saturday and we rested on Sunday. We travelled to Penang on Monday and played on Tuesday."

"Secondly, we had a suspension and injuries and we didn’t have any adequate replacements. I think those were the two main things.

"We played with the right strategy. I discussed (prior to the game) the strategy with some of the senior players to get some feedback. We played with the right strategy, but again, one mistake and once they scored, once again we had to look for goals.

"But it took them 35 minutes to score the first goal. After that, we were trying to get the goal to even the game and we left gaps (at the back) without having adequate players to fill this position.

"For me, this is the only time this year that I haven’t been able to really hold it together. I told the players before the game that this is going to be the most difficult game against this team and it really turned out to be just that. I was very, very careful on what I said to the players on what we had to do," Worden said.

Added Worden: "In my 11 years as a coach in Malaysia, this is the best team or best squad that I’ve played against. There is a vast difference in the quality of players, speed of players and ethnic of players between the two sides (Penang and Sabah). This shows how far we are left behind."

He said that even if he has two foreign players playing for Sabah, it would still be difficult to beat Penang.

"They were just classes above us, based on that game and on that ground," Worden admitted.

But despite that, Worden is not throwing in the towel just yet and said: "Before the flight, I spoke to some senior players about trying to be positive. We cannot win the game by holding this team. We cannot qualify to the next round unless we beat this team (Penang).

"But can we beat them? I think it is very possible, although I’ve said that they are the best team I’ve seen. The circumstances are there on our ground which is not the best, in the afternoon sun, which is quite hot and our ground is small. Hopefully our players are going to be in the right frame of mind – to avenge this beating – then we can get through. But it will not be easy. It will be the most difficult challenge.

"I’ve built two champion teams – Selangor in the Malaysia Cup – from nothing. The quality of this team … I would say is above either one of those two teams I built in Selangor.

"So, the future is that Sabah have got to get cracking. We are getting left behind – in terms of development and everything. We are a long way behind when I look at the stadium, the team preparations, and the quality of the players and everything," Worden stressed.

With the defeat the Rhinos remain in third spot in the four-team standings with three points after three matches.

For Sabah to confirm their quarterfinals berth, they need to win all their remaining matches.

Sabah will take on Penang on October 2.

Source: New Sabah Times

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Friday, September 28, 2001

M-Cup - Relief for Jalil, despair for Yunus

JOHOR BARU: Sarawak are still afloat - thanks to evergreen midfield maestro and skipper Mohd Ali Sapiee, who at 38 is the oldest player in the Malaysia Cup competition.

Ali threw Sarawak a lifeline by heading home the equaliser in injury time to salvage a 1-1 draw against Pahang in a Group B match at the Sarawak Stadium in Kuching on Tuesday night.

Until then Sarawak were staring at their second straight defeat after Sharuddin Rosdi had given the Elephants the lead in the 61st minute. Sarawak went into the match with a demoralising 0-4 defeat by Negri Sembilan Chempaka.

Sarawak coach Jalil Ramli heaved a sigh of relief after the match against Pahang. There is hope that Sarawak can tidy things up in the second round matches.

"Ali has brought back hope for Sarawak. If we had lost to Pahang, it would have been all over for us. Now we still have hope to qualify for the quarter-finals but we face tough away matches against Pahang and Kelantan," said Jalil.

Among the notable changes to the line-up for the match against Pahang was goalkeeper Mazlan Wahid, who was replaced by Azly Abdullah.

"I made several changes ... resting some of the seniors against Pahang. We still have one week before the second round resumes. This gives us some time to breathe," said Jalil.

"We are only two points behind leaders NS Chempaka and one behind Pahang. We are still in with a chance to advance to the quarter-finals."

Meanwhile, Pahang coach and manager Yunus Alif was ruing his team’s missed chances that cost them full points.

"Anyway we came off with a point each from our tough away matches against Kelantan and Sarawak. In the second round, we will be at home to both these teams," said Yunus.

Source: The Star

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Basketball - Sarawak’s Idham proves that size does not matter

KUALA LUMPUR: He may have the built of a sumo wrestler, but the size hides the fact that Sarawak captain Idham Khalid is one of the best non-Chinese basketball players in Malaysia.

The 20-year-old was inducted into the youth team in 1997 and had to live apart from his family who are in Miri, Sarawak.

"I was selected into the team and had to move here. It was a move which had made me a better player," said Idham.

In 1998, he grabbed the "Most Valuable Player" during the National Nike 3-on-3 Basketball Challenge where the national juniors were crowned as champions.

They went on to the Asia Pacific level but bowed out to the Philippines in the final. However, Idham was selected as one of the "Best Trio" of the tournament. The other two were Filipinos.

Due to his playing abilities, Idham was then selected to represent Malaysia at the 1st World Adidas 3-on-3 in Paris in 1998 and according to Idham, it was an experience that he will never forget.

"I had the chance to play against some of the best players in the world and it gives me an opportunity to improve myself."

However, the third child from six siblings had to take a break from the game due to family commitments. Idham had to quit the team and return to Sarawak to help his parents with family business.

In this year's 7th MABA-Petronas Cup, Idham’s big size proved to be an advantage to his team.

"My big size does not hinder me from playing the game I love."

"In fact, I see it as an advantage because my opponents will have to put more men to guard me and this gives the advantage to my teammates to score," added Idham.

Yesterday, Sarawak grabbed their second win in the tournament by beating debutants Terengganu 112-59 and will meet Petronas today.

Selangor 83 Negri Sembilan 74; Sarawak 112 Terengganu 59; Sabah 114 Perak 63; ATM 40 Petronas 105.

Source: The Star

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Wednesday, September 26, 2001

Team Sabah 2000 need RM75,000 to mount 'Eco-challenge'

KOTA KINABALU, Sept 26 (Bernama) -- Team Sabah 2000 have less than four weeks to raise RM75,000 more in sponsorships before they head to New Zealand for the world's toughest expedition race, the Eco-Challenge 2001.

Despite the shortage of funds, team leader Koboi Miala said the team were full of spirit and ready in terms of physical and mental fitness.

"We are ready, only having some financial problems," he told reporters after receiving RM20,000 sponsorship from Repco Holding Berhad here today.

He said at the New Zealand Eco-Challenge to be held from Oct 18 to Nov 2, Sabah 2000 team would not only be battling against other teams but also against mother nature as well.

Last year, the team finished sixth out of 75 teams who took part in the Sabah edition of the race.

Sabah 2000 need a total of RM105,000 in order to participate in the gruelling race to be held over 500km.

Source: BERNAMA

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M-Cup - Sabah hammered by Penang 5-0

BATU KAWAN: Premier I champions Penang went on a goal spree, hammering Sabah 5-0, to wrap up the first round of their Malaysia Cup Group D in style at the State Stadium here yesterday.

It took substitute Suthesh Sankaran Nair to get the Panthers going.

With the Panthers firing blanks for the first 30 minutes, Penang coach Irfan Bakti threw in the midfielder and he turned the match around with the first goal just three minutes later.

Promising youngster Zailani Jaafar then helped himself to two goals in the 41st and 61st minutes before Mohd Aiman Wong (51st) and Mohd Noor Derus (90th) sealed victory.

In another Group D match at Stadium Utama in Kangar, Perlis and Kedah JKR drew 0-0.

Penang took to the field without the suspended R. Suresh Nair in midfield, and nearly took the lead twice in the first four minutes.

First Aiman Wong had Sabah goalkeeper Khairul Azman diving full stretch to turn away his 25m freekick. From the ensuing corner, Ng Kok Heng’s header beat Khairul but not the woodwork.

Sabah, however, were not rattled. With experienced players like K. Sanbagamaran, Shahrin Majid, Rizal Sukiman, Julius Ating and Henry Sompion on the field, the Premier II runners-up tried to turn the tide against the Premier I champions.

Penang continued to flex their muscles and nearly opened accounts in the 28th minute when Mohd Noor’s right footer took a deflection and rocked the post.

Then came the turning point. Irfan replaced the ineffective Mohd Fareed Shah with Suthesh Nair at the half hour mark.

Suthesh took just three minutes to make his mark. Pouncing on Kok Heng’s cross, Suthesh beat the rooted Khairul to put Penang ahead in the 33rd minute.

Eight minutes later, Suthesh turned provider, wriggling his way into the heart of the Sabah goal before slipping a pass to Zailani to finish off the move.

After coming close twice to stretching their lead, Mohd Aiman snapped onto a Mohd Derus cross to let fly from 25 metres for the third in the 51st minute.

Penang netted the fourth just 10 minutes later through Zailani. Mohd Noor then completed the rout by volleying home goal number five at the stroke of full-time.

Source: The Star

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Tuesday, September 25, 2001

M-Cup - Pahang: We are going into war zone vs S'wak

JOHOR BARU: Pahang have likened their Malaysia Cup Group B match against Sarawak at the Sarawak Stadium in Kuching tonight as one that will be played in a “war zone”.

In the biggest upset in the competition thus far, Sarawak were crushed 0-4 by Premier II’s club side Negri Sembilan Chempaka in Seremban on Saturday. And Pahang coach and manager does not cherish his team taking on a wounded Sarawak tonight.

“We will be entering a war zone (the Sarawak Stadium),” said Yunus in a telephone interview from Kuantan before leaving with the team for Kuching yesterday.

Yunus also has another battle on hand. The team have been depending too much on striker Azizul Kamaluddin for goals and this has not worked well for them.

Azizul, the joint Golden Boot winner last year, is a marked man and the goals have dried up for Pahang.

“The team must stop depending on Azizul alone to win matches for Pahang. Sarawak will mark him out again and the others have to shoulder the burden to deliver the goals,” said Yunus.

“Sarawak’s pride has been hurt (by Chempaka) and I expect them to take it out on us with vengeance. They have an experienced side and they are capable of rising to the occasion. We could face a backlash.”

The Elephants top the group with four points – one point more than Chempaka. They beat Chempaka 2-1 at home in the first match and then drew 0-0 with Kelantan.

Sarawak started off on a bright note, beating Kelantan 2-0. But they were brought down to earth by Chempaka last Saturday.

“We are bracing ourselves for a torrid time at the Sarawak Stadium. I can feel the heat even before the match is played. Sarawak have the players to turn the match in their favour and I have been telling this to my players,” said Yunus.

Meanwhile, Sarawak coach Jalil Ramli, stunned by his players’ insipid performance against Chempaka, is expected make changes to the line-up.

“We have the tendency to lose possession of the ball easily. We have to cut this out and have more share of the ball,” he said.

Source: The Star

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