|Phạm Văn Đầy of Saigon Heat (centre) and his teammate Nguyễn Văn Hùng (background) play in the ABL’s match against Singapore Slingers last week. They will face Hong Kong Eastern Long Lions in HCM City today. — Photo saigonheat.com|
HÀ NỘI — Saigon Heat have recruited a 2.08m-tall player in their second match at the ASEAN Basketball League (ABL) today on their home turf at the HCM City’s Canadian International School Arena.
Saigon Heat will face Eastern Long Lions in the second game of a three-game home stand. They were easily overpowered by the Singapore Slingers, 90-65 last week.
The newcomer Herbert Hill was born in 1984 and played in different countries before landing in Việt Nam. The American competed four seasons at the National Collegiate Athletic Association. He then took part in the NBA Draft in 2007 before signing a contract with Philadelphia 76ers at the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas.
Before Heat, Hill played for Jeonju KCC Egis at the South Korea Basketball League.
Hill is expected to take the lead in the team while the Heat’s new world import Christien Charles did not suit up for the Heat during that game which made it difficult for the Heat to even make it competitive from the start.
The ABL Defensive Player of the Year last year will also miss the coming one because of injury. The Heat hope that he could come back early next year.
But head coach Althony Garbelotto still saw positives in the loss, particularly the emergence of Nguyễn Văn Hùng as a solid back-up big guy.
“The bright spot was Hùng, the big guy. (Last week) he came in, he battled (Justin) Howard, and that was a big plus for us,” Garbelotto said.
In that match Hùng logged 24 minutes. He finished with only 4 points, but did a decent job defensively, putting a body against the dominant Howard.
The Heat have not trained a lot for the tournament mainly due to the inaugural staging of the Vietnamese Basketball Association (VBA). While their rivals were already prepared for the event, the Heat were just trying to achieve complete attendance in practice sessions.
However, coach Garbelotto said there was no time to play together and it was tough for his team. But he had better players who could play better together and could do things.
The upcoming task is certainly not easier for Saigon Heat who set a target of winning the league in their fifth time competing here.
They are going to face Red-Hot Team who have pocketed three wins in a row.
The Hong Kong Eastern Long Lions did the improbable last Wednesday after they staged a magnificent comeback from 13 points down in the final two minutes of regulation to stun the Singapore Slingers, in overtime, 97-95, and maintain a hold of the top spot in the 2016-2017 ASEAN Basketball League season standings.
They are one of two invited teams at the tournament and look to challenge the defending champions Westport Malaysia Dragons.
According to Hong Kong Eastern Long Lions, joining the ABL will be a great boost to their sports programme in Hong Kong.
The club is not familiar with Vietnamese fans but a well-known face in their hometown. Operating in the country since 1932, the team have notched a major success in the Hong Kong Football Association, steadily climbing divisions until it reached Division 1 in 2007.
Its basketball team has also found great success, competing in the Hong Kong A1 Division in 2014. Several members of the team also represent the country in FIBA Asia competition. — VNS