|Buckets: Saigon Heat compete with Singapore Slingers in the ASEAN Basketball League last year. They will kick off their tournament today against Singapore Slingers. — Photo redsports.sg
HCM CITY (VNS) — Saigon Heat will make a comeback in the upcoming ASEAN Basketball League's (ABL) 2015-16 season, which starts today.
The tournament's sixth season marks the fourth appearance of Viet Nam's Saigon Heat team.
The team, founded in 2011, is the first professional basketball team in Viet Nam and has already earned some remarkable achievements. After making it to the playoffs last season, the HCM City team faces even higher expectations this season thanks to building a new squad of strong national players.
The team includes overseas talent, Daniel Lenny and Moses Morgan. David Harrison Arnold, an overseas Vietnamese shooting guard, also returned, which will help the team as well as attract a bigger fan base.
"I was here for my first time last year when we made the Playoffs. Saigon Heat is the team where I can continue my professional basketball career, with the best supporters from the my homeland, Viet Nam," said Arnord, adding, "I want to live those moments again, I want to be here for a longer time and I want to help develop Viet Nam basketball."
This year, ABL includes six teams from five countries. In addition to familiar names such as Saigon Heat, Hitech Bangkok City, Singapore Slingers and Westport Malaysia Dragons, this season welcomes two new comers – Mono Vampires from Thailand and Pacquiao Powervit Pilipinas Agilas from the Philippines.
Saigon Heat will play 20 matches divided equally at home and abroad until late February 2016.
The team's first match is a home-court game against the Singapore Slingers today, at the Canadian International School Stadium (CIS) in District 7, HCM City.
"Our goal is to be in the top three of the league," said head coach Anthony Garbelotto, adding, "But at the moment, we are very far behind the schedule because couple of players were injured, and some have had only a little time to train with the team."
He ended in an upbeat tone, "we have one of the best home courts in the ABL, with the best supporters, best organisation, best live game experience and the players have practiced extremely hard. The goal of being in the top three hasn't changed."
Playing against stronger opponents than last year, Saigon Heat 's players are practicing constantly to enter the tournament with the best physical strength and morale, ready for a much more successful ABL season.
"We maintain a high intensity of training from the morning to the evening, from strength, stamina to skills with the ball and tactical plays, 7 days a week from now until the first home game on Saturday," said veteran Nguyen Thanh Nhan, a member of the Viet Nam national team.
"We know the league is tough, and we are working very hard to have the best performance every game," added Nhan.
Spectators who are interested in basketball can check in at www.saigonheat.com for more information. — VNS