By Harry Hodge
So for a team playing a game invented by a Canadian playing at the Canadian International School stadium, you may as well hire a Canadian head coach.
So that’s what the Saigon Heat did.
Kyle Julius, a former member of the Canadian national team who took the London Lightning of Canada’s National Basketball League to a championship, is looking to bring that same playoff pedigree to the ASEAN Basketball League (ABL). His time with the Lightning was impressive, with a 61-19 regular season record and a 21-8 mark in the playoffs. The 37-year-old former All-Canadian from the University of Guelph, and also played for the Furman University Paladins in the NCAA. His professional playing career took him to Italy before returning to North America, and he ended up playing for the Lightning before becoming their coach.
“The foreign to domestic player ratio will be a challenge for me early, because I simply have to take the right amount of time toget to know each and every player and how they work together,” he conceded. “I have to judge them as people and basketball players and then I will need the time to evaluate the team as a whole.
“I think the style of play and the approach to the game I would like to implement should generate some success and definitely make our players better players right form the start.”
From studying the ABL, he concluded players around the league play extremely hard and there is a high level of skill, and that support from the fans is tremendous. He’ll inherit a squad with a group that’s worked together for a while, with imports like Lenny Daniel, heritage players like Moses Morgan and David Arnold, and domestic talent like Nguyen Van Hung.
“The main goal is to get better everyday,” he said. “The next goal is to outwork our opponents, we want to be in the best shape and be able to be the more energetic and the more physical team night in and night out.
“Lastly, I want the fans to be proud of the way we play and the way we carry ourselves as a team and organization.”