Massachusetts Basketball Players to Play for Cambodian National Team - NECN
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Massachusetts Basketball Players to Play for Cambodian National Team

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    NEWSLETTERS

    These basketball players from Lowell, Massachusetts, don't have the same skill as NBA players, but they will be representing the Cambodian National Team in the Southeast Asian Games.

    (Published Friday, Aug. 11, 2017)

    Inside the Boys and Girls Club in Lowell, Massachusetts, local players had their last basketball practice before they head off to Malaysia for the Southeast Asian Games.

    They're all American guys, but when they play overseas, they'll be representing the Cambodian National Team.

    "We're a small country, but we have that Isaiah Thomas heart; we go out there, we go all out," said team captain Pek Mith.

    He, along with five others from the Merrimack Valley, have day jobs. They've played in college and say it was confusing when they were first asked to play for their parents' former country, one they know very little about.

    "My parents don't like to talk about it," said Mith. "It brings back bad memories."

    Their families escaped the genocide of the Khmer Rouge decades ago.

    "They had to run and escape," said Dominic Dar. "Unfortunately, my grandfather died, he was killed."

    Basketball isn't as popular in Cambodia, so the coach recruited these six from Lowell.

    "We're not tall, big and strong like those NBA players, but we have a lot of heart," said Sopheena Toun.

    So when they play in two weeks, a world away, they'll be making two homelands proud.

    "I put it on with great pride and understand how hard it was for everyone to get here," Toun said. "It's such a blessing to put on the jersey and have the Cambodian flag on our chest when we're playing. It's a great feeling for me."

    To follow along with how the team is doing, click here.

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