Connor Nguyen, a Vietnamese American, will spend US$30,000 paying for the entire cost of the Vietnamese national basketball team to take part in the 28th Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in Singapore from June 5 to 16.
Nguyen’s Vietnamese name is Nguyen Tang Cuong, and he is the chairman of the Saigon Heat basketball club, the first professional team in Vietnam.
Not only has he sponsored friendly matches to prepare for the competition in Singapore, he has also assigned staff from his club to strengthen the national team, including English coach Anthony Garbelotto and elite Vietnamese players from the team.
Saigon Heat players who are on the national team include Trieu Han Minh, Ngo Tuan Trung, Tran Tien Thinh, and To Quang Trung.
Thanks to Nguyen’s great contributions to the national team, he has been appointed head of the Vietnamese basketball delegation to Singapore next month.
“I understand the role of the manager of the delegation,” Nguyen told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper.
“It’s quite different from the times I have led the Saigon Heat to attend international tournaments because this time, I am taking the responsibilities of a nation.
“But I am willing to take over the role to contribute to the development of Vietnamese basketball.”
Nguyen added, “As the owner of Saigon Heat, my target is not only to build the club, but also to lay the foundation for the development of Vietnamese basketball in the coming time.
“I want the Vietnamese national basketball team to win medals when Vietnam hosts an edition of the SEA Games in 2021.
“So, we must start working now.”
The Saigon Heat has been working with partners in the U.S. to run the program called “Junior NBA,” which has attracted thousands of children across Vietnam to train in basketball.