Brunei Darussalam



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According to my 2009 Forecast, I’m supposedly fated to travel—not travel as in more commutes between home in Seria and work in Bandar Seri Begawan—but travel as in overseas assignments which is what my forecast says without being vague. “ROOSTER: Smooth business deal and good business relationship. There are chances of promotion and overseas assignments.” This year I’ve skipped two overseas assignments for personal reasons (reasons that were beyond question of timing but also of life’s priorties). Of the two assignments, one was the May 9 Jack Daniels Grasshopper RIGHT NOW Concert in Singapore where I was selected as official photographer to BREEZE Magazine. Second assignment was the Rainforest Music Festival where I had agreed to represent The Brunei Times to cover but I passed.

Barracudas players Benjamin (L) and Xavier (R) with Team owner Nadzaty Azma Azeez and Manager Norizah Harun-Taylor

This time when Barracudas Team Owner Zaty invited me along to cover this inaugural event and what could potentially be the start of something huge for Brunei’s basketball community, I said Yes in a whim. It’s hard to pass up an opportunity to represent one’s country especially when you’re not a member of the official media.  Thank you Zaty for the opportunity and also Reeda whom I understand recommended me for the trip.

Barracudas Team (Brunei) owner Nadzaty poses with ABL Chairman Dato Tony Fernandes (far left) and fellow team owners from Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia
Group photo of ABL Team owners: Barracudas (Brunei), Satria Muda BritAma (Indonesia), Thailand Tigers, Philippines Patriots, KL Dragons, Singapore Slingers
ABL Team owners, representatives and players: Barracudas (Brunei), Satria Muda BritAma (Indonesia), Thailand Tigers, Philippines Patriots, KL Dragons, Singapore Slingers

Our journey from KL  leading up to the Official Launch in Makati, Philippines

We flew Air Asia all the way and return from Brunei to KL-LCCT to Clark Airport, Philippines
Stop-over in KL at the Low Cost Carrier Terminal (LCCT) and a few hours of shut-eye at the Tune Hotel that's conveniently located slightly more than a stone's throw away from the domestic airport.
On arrival at Clark Airport in the Philippines, the teams from Brunei, Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia congregated on Bus 732 bound for Renaissance Hotel where the official launching is held. Peeking out of the bus is a team member from Singapore Slingers and a KL Dragons player.
Here's a peek inside the coach that accommodates the entire group minus our host, the Philippines Patriots. The yellow theme in the bus greatly complements the Barracudas colour. The colour yellow is close to the hearts of Bruneians as it represents the colour of Royalty and our national flag.
A young chap on the bus sells a local delicacy called "Chicharon". According to a Tweeter reply, "Best ones can be bought in the malls and they have the brand name R. Lapids."
Chung Han, Special Assistant to Dato Tony Fernandes, joins us on the bus journey to Manila finds opening a Chicharon pack to be anything but straightforward. Michael Johnson, General Manager of Singapore Slingers (red) looks on. I wonder if they taste as good as they look—reminds me fried salmon skins except these aren't fish.
Sharing is caring! Boy continues to peddle the Chicharon to other passengers.
Barracudas Manager Norizah Harun-Taylor in an engaging conversation with Asean Basketball League's Marketing Exec, Samantha Surin
Norizah hands over Barracudas jersey to Xavier during breakfast at the Morning To Midnight restaurant at The Renaissance Hotel.
Norizah and Barracudas player Benjamin Lim holding up the spanking new team jersey! Woot Woot! 🙂

At the Renaissance Hotel in Makati while waiting for our room assignments, Singapore Slingers General Manager Michael Johnson and I got acquainted. The Slingers were champions of the Brunei Cup 2008 and Michael expresses his disappointment following the cancellation of what is “the most anticipated regional basketball tournament” in the Brunei sports calendar. Up until this trip, I’ve not really followed basketball matches in Brunei much. My main game is badminton and when it comes to basketball, it’s more a solo thing for me which I can indulge in the comfort of my home (and catching some  sun at the same time).

A Brunei Barracudas and Singapore Slingers physical moment before a joint interview session with ESPN and Nanyang Siang Pau journalist.
Vincent Lai, Assistant Editor of ESPN Start Sports interviewing the Barracudas from Brunei
Inside the ballroom leading up to the start of the official event, Norizah preps the boys about their stage performances
Nadzaty, Barraccudas team owner, shares a light hearted moment with Norizah
Remember Ben, when you walk up to the stage, this is how you stand!
The Brunei contingent: Nadzaty, Norizah, Benjamin, Xavier, Fabian and Hj Daud.
Thanks to Benjamin who video captured the event, I was able to get a quote by Dato Tony Fernandes "Believe the unbelievable, dream the impossible and never take NO for an answer"
Erick Thohir, SEABA President introduces Barracudas Team owner Nadzaty to guests and media
Sitted with Dato Tony Fernandes are Philippines Team Co-Owner Mr Antonio Cojuangco, SEABA President Erick Thohir and fellow team owners.
Light entertainment by local dancers at the Asean Basketball League official launching ceremony.
Capturing the spirit of athletics—with one circle more than the Olympics!
Dato Tony Fernandes adds the reality of the ASEAN Basketball League (ABL) to his list of glowing accolades. His "dare to dream" motto has brought phenomenal success to Air Asia and he is confident that ABL will enjoy similar success.
"Believe the unbelievable, dream the impossible and never take NO for an answer" Roger that, Tony!
Benjamin Lim and Xavier Leong sporting the yellow Barracudas jersey

We traveled in a small group so at some point in the journey we had gotten acquainted and comfortable with one another. In fact, the Brunei basketball community isn’t that big either so one way or another, we all known each other—I have a cousin and nephews who are avid players and compete in local tournaments—so when I mentioned a few names there was immediate association. Xavier, who was my seat neighbour on the trip on more than one occasion, is no exception and said being picked for ABL has been a dream come true for him. Having played basketball since young, he’s dreamt of playing in the big league and compete in major tournaments. This echoes the Chairman’s motto about turning dreams into reality and  ABL is now a part of Xavier’s reality.

CEO of ABL, Kuhan Foo, looks on as Dato Tony Fernandes addresses questions from the press

A deflated Nike ball autographed by LA Lakers No.24 Kobe Bryant. I shot this at Clark Airport while waiting for the check-in counters to open



    1. Although passengers are constantly reminded that the “use of cameras and smoking” are strictly prohibited on the runway, I managed to grab a number of shots in a very short time to stay out of the radar (possibly more pictures in next post). Absolutely no HDR! I’ve never done any HDR processing before either.


      1. Yup awesome shot on the runway. I thought it was HDR as well. Maybe cpl was used? If I had known were you in Manila I would have gone to shake your hand and get an autograph.


  1. ABL NEWS | 11th October 2009
    Singapore Slingers 87 – 69 Brunei Barracudas
    Sunday, 11 October 2009, Singapore – Singapore Slingers met the Brunei Barracudas today at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.

    Brunei Barracudas team owner Ms Nadzaty Azma Azeez was happy with her team’s performance “After practicing for only 2 weeks as a full team, they showed great teamwork and could hold their own against the more experienced Slingers. I am especially proud of our local players. This is more or less our first tune-up game given the lack of good competition we were able to find from within Brunei. So we can expect to get better once our fitness levels get better too. We definitely will continue to compete hard.”

    More here


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