Being the sole ASEAN Basketball League (ABL) representative from Indonesia last season, the CLS Knights certainly didn’t perform up to fan expectations, let alone, their own. In preparation for the upcoming campaign, the team has wasted no time during its offseason, having started its training camp months in advance.

From the look of things, this particular group of Indonesian locals have indeed had a fruitful training regime thus far, generating optimism from their head coach after the team’s first game in the Malaysia Hoops Challenge, despite ultimately finishing last overall in the tournament’s standings.

The team narrowly lost to a two-import Malaysia Matrix squad by just four points, with forward Kaleb Ramot Gamilang scoring a team-high of 21 points and grabbing four rebounds along the way. The on-court performances were enough to please head coach Koko Heru.

“I can see the improvement from them in yesterday’s game,” said Heru. “Better communication on the floor. They communicate more consistently now, not just like talking for five minutes, then [going] silent.”

He elaborated on the defensive scheme that the team has been practicing for the past few months, stating, “Before coming here, I emphasized and told them that our defense needs to be strong, [and] I wanted some weak-side positioning and better defense.”

“Overall, I see a lot of improvement from them,” Heru added with a satisfied smile on his face.

PHOTO CREDIT: ONVISA THEWPHAINGARM/ ASEAN BASKETBALL LEAGUE

In fact, the Indonesian coach also took up a challenge himself, joining 3D Global Sports as an assistant coach when the team participated at the 40th William Jones Cup two months prior in Taipei, Taiwan. Heru described the opportunity as an eye-opening experience for his still young coaching career, mentioning that it was “a brand new experience for me” and that the coach “really learned a lot from them” in how they prepare themselves for a game and how they focus on achieving goals.

“From Toronto to Taiwan is like a 17-hour flight, but once they touched down at the hotel, they went straight to the gym and practice,” eluded Heru. “Their energy level was still high, and they still put in their 100 percent effort after such a long flight,” continued the Indonesian coach on the impression the Canadian players left on him.

From a coaching standpoint, Koko praised how 3D Global Sports’ head coach handled some tough situations. “Like eight games in eight days, how he maintained the players’ high-energy levels until the end of the tournament,” added Heru.

After all was said and done, Heru was grateful for the opportunity to improve himself from a group of high-level coaches from the other side of world, acknowledging their willingness to share.

When asked about the progress of signing imports, the head coach of the Surabaya-based team was open about the types of players he will be bringing in for the new season, however, he wasn’t as gung ho about revealing their names just yet.

“We try to get players with good character, who can be our locker-room leaders. Basically, we have already signed the three imports, but we will wait for an appropriate time to reveal them. We want the imports to gel well with our locals.”

He then hinted that there will be two new faces to the league, whereas one of the imports has already played in the ABL.

“One of them will be a big man, another will be an all-around guy who can play from the one to four position,” said Heru with a sly smirk on his face.

Lastly, Koko also wishes to improve the team’s transition game more in the new season, adapting a more run-and-gun strategy into his current system. “We will play much faster. You can see we don’t have a lot of height, so we have to cover it with speed and tempo. Like small ball.”

“So we will push the tempo and play fast in the new season,” closed Heru.