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Sky’s the limit for Vietnamese national basketball at 31st SEA Games

Sky’s the limit for Vietnamese national basketball at 31st SEA Games

Thursday, December 30, 2021, 15:50 GMT+7
Sky’s the limit for Vietnamese national basketball at 31st SEA Games
Vietnamese national basketball team coach Kevin Yurkus at the VBA Premier Bubble Games 2021. Photo: VBA

Despite the Vietnamese national basketball team’s not-so-impressive performance at the VBA Premier Bubble Games 2021, fans hope their experience in the league’s latest season will give them an edge at the 31st Southeast Asian (SEA) Games next year.

Holes in the lineup

At the VBA Premier Bubble Games 2021, the Vietnamese national basketball team only had domestic Vietnamese and overseas Vietnamese players, a lineup many consider a disadvantage against other VBA teams that were permitted to field two foreign basketballers and one overseas Vietnamese player.

The national team has four overseas Vietnamese players, including Richard Nguyen, Justin Young, Khoa Tran, and Tam Dinh, though all four of them never started at the same time.

Khoa Tran missed several games at the beginning of the season due to personal reasons, while a serious injury sidelined Tam Dinh for the second half of the season.

Tam Dinh of the Vietnamese national basketball team is injured at the VBA Premier Bubble Games 2021. Photo: VBA

Tam Dinh of the Vietnamese national basketball team is injured at the VBA Premier Bubble Games 2021. Photo: VBA

Experts believe the national team can fill the open holes in its lineup by recruiting Vietnamese VBA stars, particularly Thang Long Warriors’ Dang Thai Hung, Saigon Heat’s Vo Kim Ban, Cantho Catfish’s Le Hieu Thanh, and Nha Trang Dolphins’ Nguyen Thanh Dat.

With regard to overseas Vietnamese athletes who could find themselves on the national team’s roster, Hanoi Buffaloes’ Sang Dinh, Danang Dragons’ Michael Soy, and Thang Long Warriors’ Jordan Young are among those with the most potential.

At the 31st SEA Games 31 in Vietnam next May, the national team may welcome Christian Juzang, who helped Saigon Heat win the VBA championship in 2020, and Chris Dierker, a two-meter-tall player whose height could be needed against more physically imposing rivals. 

Nha Trang Dolphins’ Thanh Dat (in white) at the VBA Premier Bubble Games 2021. Photo: VBA

Nha Trang Dolphins’ Thanh Dat (in white) at the VBA Premier Bubble Games 2021. Photo: VBA

Coach Yurkus under huge pressure

The Vietnamese national basketball team only won four out of their nine games at the VBA Premier Bubble Games 2021.

Coach Kevin Yurkus was constantly under pressure to make up for his team’s lack of experience against strong, taller, and more seasoned foreign players on opposing teams.

Huynh Thanh Tam, Nguyen Anh Kiet, Son Minh Tam, and Pham Duc Kien gave it their best, but their inexperience showed on the court.

Still, fans of the national team have hope, particularly given that Coach Yurkus has about six months to figure out a strategy for the 31st SEA Games.

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