By Harry Hodge
There they grow again! Capitalizing on the groundswell of popularity across the country during the first season of the Vietnam Basketball Association (VBA), the fledgling league has opted to expand in the national capital region as it heads into season two.
While it’s early days yet for the squad, new head coach Lee Tao Dana of the Thang Long Warriors was ready to offer his insights only one day into his new job. He’s already hit the ground running out of necessity, with the Vietnamese national team playing at the SEABA tournament in the Philippines and the SEA Games in August, with VBA preseason action set to begin in late August.
“I’m very much looking forward to coaching in the VBA and especially with the Warriors,” he said. “We have a lot of work to do and being that many of the better local players are already signed with other teams we will really have our work cut out in recruiting local players.
“But, I’m looking forward to the challenge and in building from the ground up. It’s a great opportunity.”
Prior to being bench boss for the Warriors, Dana spent time in the Thai Basketball Super League, coaching at the college level in the US, as well as time in the NBA D-league as an assistant and a role with the Golden State Warriors. He admitted his main priority at the moment is building a new roster from scratch.
“We’re working on signing local players but it’s early on, I just started yesterday,” he said. “But I hope to bring in some local players within a week or so.”
He added that he expects to have a healthy rivalry with the crosstown Buffaloes, adding he’s very familiar with their head coach Todd Purves.
“The appetite for basketball seems strong judging from the fans I’ve seen at the Hanoi Buffaloes games,” he said. “I hope we can provide a great atmosphere for the fans here with basketball and entertainment.
“Maybe we can create a healthy rivalry with the Buffaloes. Coach Todd and I are good friends so it won’t be too nasty.”