Professional Malaysian basketball athletes Ivan Yeo and Kuek Tian Yuan take us to court in this Fitness Kickstart chronicling a career honed from passion and performance.

Do you love a sport to the point where every ounce of your waking moments and sleep time is dedicated to perfecting each move? For Ivan Yeo and Kuek Tian Yuan, basketball is their life passion-turned-vocation. The duo shoulders the monumental task as team players of the Wesports Malaysia Dragons of the ASEAN Basketball League.

 No strangers to performing on the international arena, Ivan, 25, and Tian Yuan, 27, are blessed with the physique and mental willpower to play for leagues like the International Basketball Federation Asia (FIBA Asia Cup). Curious to know what a day in the life of a professional basketball players looks like, we passed the ball (and mic) to the towering 6-footers and got them to showcase their moniker moves, among others.  

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How old were you when you started playing basketball?

Ivan: I was 11 years old. I remember when I I first watched an NBA Game, I was amazed and that spurred me on to pick up basketball.

Tian Yuan (TY): My schoolmate called me to play basketball with him one day. The school coach, upon noticing my height, asked me to join the school team. I’ve been playing ever since.

What were the earliest basketball influences in your life?

Ivan: When I saw Kobe Bryant playing in the NBA, I felt like he was the best player at the time and I wanted to play like him.

TY: Prior to joining the school basketball team, I’d never heard of the NBA until my friends from other states told me about it. I saw a few games and I really looked up to Tim Duncan.  

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Describe how it felt to be selected as part of the national basketball team.

Ivan: A huge sense of achievement but I still felt there was lots of room for improvement. Till this day I continue to work hard at it.

TY: I remember how nervous I felt when the coach put me out for my first game. I saw a lot of bigger opponents, foreign players who were bigger and stronger than us, and I resolved to make a greater comeback with more rigorous training.

How does it feel to see fellow Malaysians giving you–the national athletes–their support?

Ivan: Even when we fail to win, I feel that our fans are supportive and never gave up on us. They’ve supported us since the beginning right up till our recent SEA Games in KL. I feel really proud and happy to play in front of our home crowd–It was a once-in-a-lifetime feeling.

TY: When we’re in the court, the cheering from our supporters never fail to excite us and fill us with the confidence of wanting to beat the opponents.

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