When Mario Wuysang returned to Indonesia after spending his secondary and tertiary years in Indiana, USA, he had a dream: to make basketball one of the main sports in the country.
Football and badminton are the “mainstream” sports in Indonesia with basketball lagging behind at three. But slowly, with the growth of the Indonesian Basketball League and the ASEAN Basketball League, basketball is gaining leverage in the country.
It has been 17 years since Wuysang, now 38 years old, returned to Indonesia but still, the program is still light years behind the Philippines as seen in the 2017 Southeast Asian Basketball Association Championship.
“The Philippines is a tough team. Gilas is a tough team.
“We knew that coming in. We respect them a lot. 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. That’s the best that we can do,” shared Wuysang after Indonesia’s 64-97 loss to Gilas.
The silver finish though was a small triumph for the program as they are starting to finally embrace the ins and outs of international basketball.
“We have imports now in our professional league – that’s gonna help the progress of the abilities and competition of our local guys,” the 5-foot-9 floor general remarked as cagers like Jamarr Johnson and former FEU foreign student-athlete Anthony Hargrove have reinforced their club teams.
“Get some international coaching in there. We can progress,” he furthered.
But with Wuysang entering the twilight of his international career, the best point guard Indonesia has ever produced remains hopeful that basketball can find its footing in Indonesia.
“This is my last SEABA. It’s gonna be my last SEA games, I played in so many of them already. I played in FIBA Asia already. It’s gonna be my last one,” said Wuysang, who averaged 7.8 points, 2.7 rebounds, and 5.3 assists in the tournament.
“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. I’d be coaching by that time.”