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The Asian Basketball Federation (Fiba Asia) for the first time has upgraded the national women's basketball team from level II to Level I, the same level as the bigger teams in Asia, when they square off at the 22nd Fiba Asia Women Basketball Championship next month.
Malaysia have been grouped together with basketball giants China, South Korea, Taiwan and Thailand in the 22nd edition of the tournament, which will take place in Incheon, South Korea from June 3 to 10.
Malaysia are scheduled to take on Taiwan in the opening match on June 3.
"This will be the first time the Malaysian women's team will play with China, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and Thailand.
"We were placed in Level II during the same championship the last time. Fiba probably upgraded our squad after observing the progress we have made," said national women's team coach Tan See Wah to Bernama.
The squad had emerged as Level II champions during the 20th edition of the championship in Sendai, Japan in 2004.
Tan said the Incheon championship would also be a good build up for Malaysia's preparations for the SEA Games in Korat, Thailand in December.
Tan will also bring the team for further exposure at the Arafura Games in Darwin, Australia from May 12 to 19 before the championship in South Korea.
The Malaysian women's team won the gold in 2001 and silver in 2003 and 2005 at the Arafura Games, which is a sporting event held to cater for the smaller nations in the Pacific.
Malaysia also won gold in the SEA Games in Kuala Lumpur in 2001 and in Vietnam in 2003.