For longtime national team point guard Mario Wuysang, Indonesian basketball still has a long way to go.
On Thursday, Indonesia bowed to Gilas Pilipinas in the 2017 SEABA Championship, and settled for second place in the tournament. With the victory, the Philippines will move on to the FIBA Asia Cup later this year.
“Gilas is a tough team. We knew that coming in. We respect them a lot,” Wuysang shared after the game. “We know they’re preparing for something bigger. We just wanted to go out there and compete today, give it our best, and put up a fight.”
Indonesia was predicted to be Gilas’ toughest opponent, but it only took a matter of minutes in the first half before the home team broke the game wide open. By halftime, Indonesia was already facing a 51-30 deficit. Gilas’ lead even ballooned to as much as 38 points, removing any doubt that the Philippines is the best in the region.
“They got size, they’re a well-oiled machine, they’re well-coached,” admitted Wuysang. “The Philippines know their basketball.”
Wuysang has been Indonesia’s best point guard, garnering accolades and awards both from the Indonesia Basketball League and ASEAN Basketball League. The 38-year-old has represented his flag and country for quite some time now, but he’s still one of the best guards in the region.
In the SEABA Championships, Wuysang’s name became a headline when he was able to hit a gutsy game-winner against Thailand. He also ended up as the tournament’s assist leader, averaging 5.6 in six games.
And despite the disappointing finish by his countrymen, Wuysang knows that Indonesia basketball can still improve moving forward. He mentioned that through the IBL, his country can help in growing the sport.
“We have imports now in our professional league – that’s gonna help the progress of the abilities and competition of our local guys,” he explained. “Get some international coaching in there. We can progress, you know.”
Still, the seasoned pro admits that in order for Indonesia basketball to progress, the love for the game has to grow. Unlike in the Philippines where the number sport is basketball, the same unfortunately cannot be said about Indonesia where other sports like football and badminton are prevalent. Constant awareness, giving attention, and infiltrating the culture are all needed in making a particular sport flourish.
“We can’t really compare to the PBA because the Philippines, their number one sport is basketball. So you have to understand that,” Wuysang opened up. “Our number one sport is not basketball. Basketball is maybe number 3. We can’t compare it to the PBA.”
He added: “When you’re so passionate about a sport, it’s easier for you to get backings and sponsors. If there’s money involved, you’re gonna progress. Hopefully (Indonesia) goes in that direction.”
Now in the twilight of his playing career, Wuysang is set to play his final tournament for Indonesia in the upcoming 2017 Southeast Asian Games in August. Since the inception of the Men’s basketball tournament, Indonesia has finished silver thrice, including most recently back in 2015.
“We’re preparing for the SEA games. We take a lot from this,” he said about the team’s SEABA journey. “We worked on our chemistry, just on our system mainly because we haven’t practiced much as a team, as a unit, because we all play in different teams, just like in Gilas.”
By the end of August, Mario Wuysang would have played his final game for Indonesia basketball. He’s focused in the upcoming SEA games, but at the same time, he hopes the future of basketball in his country will continue develop.
And for Wuysang, he will still be there when Indonesia basketball progress.
“I’d be coaching by that time,” he laughed.