SPORT IN SAIGON: Heat face learning curve while awaiting reinforcements

 

The new-look Saigon Heat feature a lot of new faces to complement veterans Moses Morgan, David Arnold, Stefan Nguyen and Horace Nguyen.

By Harry Hodge

Earlier this week, the Saigon Heat introduced the 2017-2018 edition of their ASEAN Basketball League (ABL) squad to the media, but… It looked like there were still a few spots remaining on the bench.

This is because the current training roster doesn’t include four ballers still playing in the VBA Championship game. Tam Dinh, Justin Young, Dinh Thanh Sang and To Quang Trung were all in the thick of the title tournament and skipped the presser, and Nguyen Huynh Hai was at a family function and was absent as well.

“They will have to learn the system and fit in as best they can in a very short period of time,” said new Heat head coach Kyle Julius, playing the hand dealt him by the scheduling gods. “The current squad is a work in progress.”
Depending on your perspective, more like a major overhaul. Gone are fan favourite Lenny Daniel, former ABL MVP Christien Charles, Olympian martial artist Nguyen Van Hung and most of last year’s domestic players. Imports Travele Jones and Akeem Scott are expected to make a major impact from the jump, with Scott and Julius having familiarity owing to their time together on the London Lightning, which competes in Canada’s National Basketball League.

Manager Connor Nguyen, left, and head coach Kyle Julius have two-and-a-half weeks to get a squad ready to face the Formosa Dreamers in their home opener.

In an interview weeks earlier, Julius had told Sport In Saigon he foresaw having “… a player pool of 17 players we’ll use to pick the team.” Obviously, the missing players will be in game shape when the VBA Finals conclude, but will they have time to gel as a unit when the Dreamers come to town? And who’s notable on the Taiwanese team’s roster? Former Heat MVP Lenny Daniel, who’ll hope to make his return a nightmare for Saigon.

Get your popcorn ready! The Heat’s home opener is set for Saturday, Dec. 9 at CIS Stadium in District 7.

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About hodgedude

I'm a Canadian journalist and teacher, most recently living in Edmonton and Toronto, now located in Ho Chi Minh City. Graduate of Concordia University in Montreal. I've taught English in S. Korea, pulled rickshaws in Canada, taught at a Taiwanese language boot camp, edited newspapers in China and played a French-speaking Spanish colonel on Vietnamese TV. I also play Australian football. Pick up a copy of issue one of my independent comic, "Getting Lucky," at Happy Harbor Comics in Edmonton, the Comic Hunter in Moncton, New Brunswick, and the Spotted Cow Pub, 111 Bui Vien, District 1, Saigon.
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