Smells like Thai spirit for Bryant in 2014

Sports Rev Thailand Slammers coach Joe Bryant is already looking forward to next season in the ASEAN Basketball League (ABL).

Joe Bryant.
Marcus Chhan

By Marcus Chhan

"The Thai fans have been great this season," Bryant told FOX Sports in a statement.

"Their energy and support definitely elevate the players to a higher level of play. Without them, we wouldn't have gone this far.

"We are looking forward to playing for them next season. Thai spirit is simply amazing. Thank you to all of them."

The 2013 ABL campaign ended on Wednesday with the San Miguel Beermen sweeping the Indonesia Warriors 3-0 in the Finals to be crowned Champions for the first time.

On their way to the title the Beermen defeated the Slammers in four-games but the Thais won over many admirers for the way they made life so difficult for the top seeded Filipinos.

Thailand are not considered one of the major forces in Southeast Asian basketball and Bryant has been credited with helping to develop the game in the country as well as instilling a belief in his local players at the Slammers.

The culmination of his hard work - and that of the Slammers' coaching staff - came to fruition late last month when Thai player Darongpan Apiromvilaichai knocked down a long jump shot with five seconds left for a shock Game 1 win over the Beermen in the Philippines in the ABL Semi-Finals.

It was a proud moment for Thai basketball, even if the Slammers went on to lose the next three games to San Miguel to be eliminated from the ABL Playoffs.

"Joe Bryant is a great ambassador of the game both to Thailand and all of Southeast Asia," ABL chief executive officer Anthony Macri said.

"On the court, he has encouraged the development of his local players and instilled a feeling of family and togetherness amongst his Thailand Slammers' team. Off the court, coach Bryant is an enthusiastic supporter of the growth of basketball - willing to engage with fans and promote our league in every way possible."

The Slammers just sneaked into the ABL post-season as the fourth best team in the regular season on the back of some inspired play from the ABL's newly crowned World Import MVP and Defensive Player of the Year, Chris Charles.

Charles averaged 19.7 points and 14.5 rebounds per game in the regular season as well as leading the league in blocks at 4.1 per contest.

He did not hesitate to pay tribute to the impact of Bryant when told of his double-award win last month.

"The major factor is [Slammers] coach Joe Bryant. He puts his guys in positions to excel on the court," Charles said.

"Can't thank him enough. My basketball IQ is definitely higher because of him. His basketball knowledge is incredible."

Bryant led the Slammers to an 8-14 record in the 2013 ABL regular season.

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