Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Sea Games / Snooker: Sam back in the fold

SAM Chong will make a return to the international snooker arena after an absence of nine years at the Sea Games in Palembang, and the former Asian Games champion wants nothing less than the gold.
Sam, who last represented Malaysia at the 2002 Busan Asian Games, will partner National No 1 Thor Chuan Leong in the doubles.

The 49-year-old accepted the Malaysian Snooker and Billiards Federation's (MSBF) offer to make an international comeback following his successful outing at the recently concluded National Tour where he finished fifth.

"I was surprised at first but gladly accepted the offer to represent the country again. I've not lost my touch as I can still accumulate high points on the table," said Sam, who manages a snooker centre in Kuala Lumpur, yesterday.
"However, I need to brush up on several aspects of my game. My problem is long shots but I am spending hours to overcome this problem. Chuan Leong and I have a good relationship and so far everything is going great in training."

Sam, regarded as Malaysia's finest ever snooker player, was once one of the most feared in Asia. His most memorable outing was winning the Asian title 21 years ago.

"My last Sea Games outing was a decade ago in Kuala Lumpur but we did not do too well in it. I want to make amends in Palembang," added Sam, who was once among the top-100 ranked players on the professional circuit.

According to MSBF secretary Melvin Chia, the veteran was included to give more depth to the doubles.

"Sam's experience will add up nicely to Chuan Leong's style of play. Furthermore, Sam will bring stability into this partnership as he can advise Chuan Leong, who is known for taking unnecessary risks, during his turn on the table.

"We had Chuan Leong and Lai Chee Wei making the final in Laos two years ago, but both players argued continually on the table and they subsequently lost," said Chia.

Chuan Leong-Sam face Indonesia's Rudy Sulaeman-William Paenem in the first round and a win will likely set them up against Thailand's Thanawat Tirapongpaiboon-Noppon Saengkham for a spot in the semi-finals.

"They have the experience to clear their opening match but would face a huge stumbling block if they play the Thais in the semi-finals," said Chia.

Chuan Leong, who won the National Tour, will also play singles along with former Singapore Open finalist Chee Wei.

The Sea Games is, coincidentally, the first international tournament for the snooker team and Chia fears lack of exposure could affect their game in Palembang.

"Their only exposure outside the country was a short training stint in Qatar. However, they had ample practice on the local tour," he added.

Malaysia are competing for only six of the 10 gold medals on offer as MSBF decided not to send players for English Billiards and Carom.

Read more: NST

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