Pelita Jaya Indonesia advances to the Road to Final 8 round of the FIBA Asia Champions Cup, after placing second in the SEABA leg of the Qualifiers. The Indonesian team lost to Thai hosts Mono Vampire Basketball Club, but bested both Red Baron (Malaysia) and Xin Hua (Singapore).
“We’re working hard each day to improve and hopefully will ready so we can make it to the Final 8,” shared team captan Arki Dikania Wisnu, who has helped lead the Indonesian National Team to two silver medal finishes each in the SEA Games and SEABA competitions.
Although there are quite a number of new faces in the selection as handpicked by head coach Fictor Roring, Wisnu remains steadfast in qualifying for the FIBA Asia Champions Cup as a representative of the country.
“It’s always a new group of guys each year (in the National Team), and always I do my best to just play my role so we can all gel together to reach our goals. We have some young guys again this year and they work hard. Don’t count us out.”
Unlike most of the club teams in the tournament, PERBASI Indonesia and the Indonesian Basketball League (IBL) had an agreement to allow national team players to consist of the team joining to give them more first-hand experience playing together in actual tournaments in preparation for the upcoming 18th Asian Games in August.
Pelita Jaya players Xaverius Prawiro and Valentino Wuwungan are joined in this delegation by Wisnu, Juan Laurent Kokodiputra, Avan Seputra and Kevin Yonas Sitorus of Satria Muda Pertamina, Abraham Damar Grahita and Andakara Prastawa of Stapac Jakarta, and Sandy Kurniawan and Firman Dwi Nugroho of the CLS Knights.
Notably missing Pelita Jaya players are Adhi Pratama, Respati Ragil Pamungkas, and imports CJ Giles and Wayne Bradford. The team is instead reinforced by one-time Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) import Adrian Forbes, and former NBA D-League big man Jaleel Roberts.
When asked about wearing the jersey of their rival team whom they have just beat in the recent IBL Finals, Wisnu just shrugged it off, “To be honest I don’t feel any way. I’m just out here trying to play my best and enjoy the game I love.”
Sandy Kurniawan of the CLS Knights, who recently played in the ASEAN Basketball League (ABL), continued to explain, saying “We are just playing for the country, the name on the jersey just for formality.”
“This team for the beginning its planning for our national team try-outs for facing next Asian Games and also Sea Games. Just don’t mind what I’m wearing, whenever there is Indonesia in front of the jersey, I’m ready,” added the sharpshooter from Surabaya, who notably cut off his signature long locks.
“However, I do have some fans that were disappointed because they thought I switched teams. Gotta love the fans for their support,” chimed in Wisnu while laughing.
The top team in the Road to Final 8 round will advance to join teams from a team from West Asia, China and South Korea in the ‘East’ bracket, while a second West Asian team is set to join Australia, Japan and the Philippines in the ‘West’ group when the club championships open in September.