|Saigon Heat players (in red) seen in the finals against Cantho Catfish last year. The Heat won 3-2 after five matches to take the title. This year tournament will be held in July. — Photo of Saigon Heat
HÀ NỘI — While teams and fans alike are excited for the start of the new Vietnam Basketball Association (VBA) season, the start date has been pushed back to late July, while the league's first-ever All-Star event has been scrapped.
The VBA had expected to bring in various changes for the 2020 season, but then came the coronavirus.
The COVID-19 pandemic forced the postponement of many sporting competitions, including the VBA, which was originally meant to begin later this month.
The postponement of regular-season action has meant the league's first All-Star events will have to wait until next year.
"VBA All-Star could not be carried out. The unexpected rest time due to the COVID-19 pandemic made everything stagnate and we face financial problems,” said Trần Chu Sa, VBA executive director.
“We regret to announce the cancellation to supporters but promise to bring it to you next season.”
According to Sa, the VBA All-Star event was inspired by the NBA version, but with some Vietnamese twists.
The event was set to feature a basketball exhibition for both players and supporters with a range of activities, finishing with a match between the league's best players selected by fans.
Following a new schedule approved by the Việt Nam Sports Administration, the 2020 VBA season will begin on July 2 and wrap up on October 31.
However, the tournament may only tip-off in late July in reality.
“Currently, our foreign players and coaches and overseas players have not arrived in Việt Nam yet because of the limited number of international flights and visas. And they will all have to do a 14-day quarantine before joining their clubs.
“To start the competition on July 2, teams must train together in early June. I found that it would be difficult for all the participants. Therefore, the tournament might be slated to begin at the end of July. It is to ensure the quality of the event,” said Sa.
After time for teams to protect their players, organisers have announced the VBA Draft will be held on Wednesday and aired live on the VBA website.
Aside from coronavirus-forced alterations, the league this year has a few other changes in format.
There will be seven teams, one more than last year, with the newcomers Nha Trang Dolphins coached by American Ryan Marchand.
The league will also be split into two groups for the regular season, with the top two from each advancing to the playoffs for a three-game semi-final series.
The finals will feature a five-game series.
This year, teams can register up to 17 players but only one overseas Vietnamese in the squad instead of two previously.
The move aims to give more chances to local players and develop national basketball, although it may decrease the quality of the competition, according to the organisers.
After the finals conclude, players will take part in the VBA 3x3 event for the first time. It is scheduled for November in Hà Nội, HCM City, Đà Nẵng and Nha Trang.
Việt Nam sent their 3x3 basketball team to last December’s Southeast Asian Games in the Philippines and bagged bronze.
According to VBA, this result together with the growing popularity of the sport in the community spurred the launch of the 3x3 event. — VNS