|NEVER BACK DOWN: The Catfish’s fans cheering for their team even when they had bad results. Photo courtesy of Cần Thơ Catfish.|
The regular season of the Việt Nam Basketball Association (VBA) ended last week and Cần Thơ Catfish finished with four wins, eight losses and ranked penultimate in the ranking. One would think that such a showing would make fans angry and turn their back on the team, but what really happened was completely different.
Let’s go Cần Thơ, let’s go!
This is the familiar chant, that you can hear if you go to Tân Bình Gymnasium on a day when Cần Thơ has their home match.
Win or lose, the applause, drumming, shouting, and the energy of the fans on the court stay the same for the two months of the regular season.
Lê Gia Quốc Thắng, 27, a big fan of the Catfish, told Việt Nam News that this was a tough season for the team and fans.
“Our team didn’t start well, and the young players and main players did not seem to have good chemistry at the beginning,” Thắng said.
“However, as a part of Cần Thơ, the 'kingdom of catfish', I love this club. My blood is always “green” so I will continue to support the players and coaches in upcoming matches,” Thắng said after the Catfish lost six games after seven matches.
Cần Thơ Catfish have been the most disadvantaged team this season.
Due to COVID-19, their former home court, the Cần Thơ Sport Hall, had to be converted into a field hospital. Therefore, the team had to play in HCM City.
In addition, the team had to compete without their core players such as William Trần, Tâm Đinh, and captain Lê Hiếu Thành after they were traded to other teams.
The return of Sang Đinh, and “block machine” DeAngelo Hamilton two years after leaving the team was not enough to pull a young team such as Cần Thơ Catfish to good results this year.
“It’s very difficult to compete with other teams without a 'morale' captain like Lê Hiếu Thành, who can boost the team spirit in difficult times. In addition, playing without quality overseas Vietnamese players like Tâm Đinh and William Trần is a big disadvantage for our team,” Thắng added.
Best fans ever
Difficulties and big losses are what everyone could have predicted before the season started.
In the last match of the regular season, Cần Thơ Catfish faced Sài Gòn Heat, the top team of the season.
This was similar to an exhibition match as the Heat had clinched a playoff spot with an impressive record of nine wins and two losses. Meanwhile, the Catfish was at the bottom of the table.
The stands that day were packed with Catfish fans who wanted to cheer for their team for the last time this season.
Although it was expected that there would be another loss for them, especially since their opponent was a very strong team, the fans were still optimistic.
|LET’S GO CẦN THƠ, LET’S GO: Fan's chant for Cần Thơ Catfish's victory against Saigon Heat in their last match of the season. Photo courtesy of Cần Thơ Catfish.|
The cheers and drums were so loud that you could still hear them in the parking lot. Flags and banners were brought to the court by more fans than usual.
"It's a little bit sad that the season ended up like this. It's very sad that we cannot play for a championship for the fans, but we will do everything to get a victory for them in this match as a big thank to the fans, who support us all the time and hope we will comeback stronger next year,” captain Sang Đing said before the match.
“The connection between the club and the fans is great. We built that relationship over the four years while we were playing in Cần Thơ, before COVID-19 started. The connection is so good that fans in Cần Thơ even travelled to HCM City to support us whenever we have a home game,” he said.
“For me, they are the best fans ever. Cần Thơ Catfish have the best fans in Việt Nam.”
|MORE THAN A FANCLUB: Fans took picture with the players after their first home game against Hanoi Buffaloes. Photo courtesy of Cần Thơ Catfish.|
And anyone who watched that match could see how strong that connection is.
Cần Thơ Catfish were without Hamilton, Đăng Khoa and Hoàng Tú, but the fans were still there, cheering for every attack, every defence. Some fans even lost their voices for cheering when the game was only at halftime.
And their support throughout the season seems to have paid off. The Catfish made a great comeback after falling behind 24-9 in the first quarter to win the game 70-65 in very last minutes.
It is the cheers of the fans that were the 'morale' medicine for the young players on the court to play their best game and win against strong opponents.
The fans and players burst into happiness after the final whistle.
They hugged each other, took pictures, and gave each other good wishes for next season. It was the best feeling for them after a tough season like this year.
Until next time! Let’s go Cần Thơ, let’s go! VNS