When the National Basketball League’s Championship Series starts in Yogyakarta today, the number eight will likely be ringing in the heads of the Satria Muda Britama players.
The Jakarta club, which was founded in 1994, has won the country’s top league seven times.
The first was in 1999 when the top flight was still a semi-pro league, Kobatama. Satria Muda then dominated the professional league since its inauguration in 2003, taking the trophy six times, including five consecutive times since 2006.
Now, after finishing the regular season on top of the table, Satria Muda is once again the team to beat.
“We’ll go for eight,” Satria Muda coach Ocky Tamtelahitu said on Friday. “We’re aware that all the other teams have been targeting us since we won it in 2006, but we’ll fight to keep the trophy for another season.”
Ocky doesn’t think the league will lose fans if Satria Muda lifts the trophy again this season.
“Other teams have been building better squads to beat us,” he said. “That’s good for the league and the fans, because we’ve had lots of great games this season.”
Satria Muda will start the Championship Series against No. 8-seed Bimasakti Nikko Steel today at the UNY Sports Hall.
Guard Yanuar Dwi Priasmoro, 23, who was named the league’s regular-season MVP on Friday, will lead Bimasakti’s charge at it looks to spring a huge upset against the defending champion.
“This award will surely boost my confidence for the playoffs against Satria Muda,” said Yanuar, who was the NBL’s top scorer with 17.8 points per game during the regular season.
It will be a tough task for the Malang, East Java, club, which lost all three of its regular-season games against Satria Muda.
Dell Aspac, the only other team that has won the country’s top flight, in 2003 and 2005, appears to have regained that championship form.
Aspac finished second in the regular season and will meet Stadium in the first round. “As long as the boys can avoid making small mistakes, I think that we have a chance to win,” said Aspac’s coach, Tjetjep Firmansyah.
Another top contender is Pelita Jaya Esia, which will meet Muba Hangtuah. It won its last six regular-season games, including victories over Satria Muda and Aspac, to finish in third place and grab momentum heading into the playoffs.
“Since the start of the season we’ve been eyeing the title. And we believe we’ll get it,” Pelita Jaya coach Rastafari Harongbala said.
Another matchup will feature the CLS Knights against fourth-seed Garuda Speedy Bandung.