Prompt start to basketball season in doubt

Cambodia's men's basketball team at the SEA Games.
Cambodia's men's basketball team at the SEA Games this year. Facebook

Uncertainty surrounds a prompt start to the Cambodian Basketball League season on Saturday following the Federation’s inability to find sponsors for the fifth edition in the wake of Angkor Beer pulling out this year.

As many as 10 teams have expressed eagerness to take part but the Cambodian Basketball Federation (CBF) has held back registration in the hope of attracting partners/sponsors even as team owners have offered to increase registration fees so at least operating costs could be covered.

Sources at CBF familiar with the ongoing discussions indicate that the CBF, while welcoming the owners’ gesture, will still be seeking additional financial support for awards and prizes.

“We can not hold the league without prize money, even if the operational costs can be covered by registrations. We still need funds for prizes, medals and trophies,” CBF marketing and media officer Ken Gadaffi told The Post.

Apart from the vexed issue of sponsors, the availability of the Indoor Arena court could pose a logistical challenge, with the busy schedule of officials, drawn out for various events like the School Games in Kampong Cham, making it hard for the CBF to stick to its league season tip-off on October 7 as was originally announced.

“We need to work out the timeframe. The league has to end this year. But the court is fully booked. All officials are now busy with the School Games in the province. We have the University Games coming up and the U23 Youth League. So it is a tough task sorting out schedules,” CBF technical director Austin Koledoye said.

Meanwhile, the CBF is planning a meeting with team owners in the next few days to find a way forward. The owners are eager to see the season take off.

Away from these off-court issues, CBF officials are also focusing their efforts this season to impress upon owners to recruit more Cambodian players so the national team can be strengthened.

“We appreciate the impact of the foreign players and owners of CBL clubs on the basketball scene. But as we prepare for the 2023 SEA Games at home, we need to use the CBL as a platform to usher in more local players and bolster the national squad,” Koledoye said.