Saigon Heat, the three-time consecutive VBA champion, made its mark as the first team in the last two years to secure victory with an all-domestic player lineup.
In the 2023 VBA match on August 30, Saigon Heat raised concerns among fans as it faced Danang Dragons without two key players -- foreign star Kentrell Barkley and Vietnamese forward Hassan Thomas.
However, following a dramatic contest, coach Matt Van Pelt and his team showcased a new level of maturity.
|Saigon Heat’s coach Matt Van Pelt. Photo: VBA|
Despite missing two main players, the team secured a remarkable 86-82 victory against its opponent, who fielded both a foreign player and a Vietnamese forward.
Saigon Heat’s triumph is particularly noteworthy given that since the 2021 season, VBA has allowed clubs to have up to two foreign players to enhance team quality, and no team had previously won with an all-domestic lineup since the change.
The success of the Ho Chi Minh City basketball team was fueled by the outstanding performance of Nguyen Huynh Phu Vinh, the towering player from Mekong Delta basketball.
|Nguyen Huynh Phu Vinh scores the winning point. Photo: VBA|
“Vinh, a rare figure in Vietnamese basketball standing over two meters tall, has evolved from a player with modest skills five years ago into a pivotal player,” coach Le Tran Minh Nghia, a former member of the Vietnamese national basketball team coaching staff, shared his admiration for Vinh’s growth.
Presently, Vinh stands as the leading candidate for the Domestic Player of the Year title, boasting the highest scoring index among domestic players with an average of 14.5 points per match.
Additionally, he is the sole forward to secure the tournament’s MVP title twice.
|Du Minh An calmly handles pressure. Photo: VBA|
Alongside Vinh, two other longstanding heroes, Du Minh An and Dinh Khai Tam (Tim Waale), played crucial roles in achieving this significant milestone.
Du Minh An set his personal scoring record at VBA with 25 points in the fourth quarter, while captain Tim Waale excelled in the battle under the basket, setting a rebound record with 15 successful attempts, according to Saigon Heat’s statistics.