Trần Ngọc Sơn lines up a free throw effort in the tournament on Saturday. VNS Photo Đăng Nguyễn
Peter Cowan and Đăng Nguyễn
HÀ NÔI — If the legendary founder of Hà Nội King Lý Thái Tổ didn’t know how to crossover his opponent, step back and drill a three-pointer before this weekend, he does now.
That’s because the Hà Nội Basketball Federation (HBF) held its first 3x3 basketball tournament in front of the watchful eye of the king at Lý Thái Tổ Flower Garden by Hoàn Kiếm Lake on Saturday.
Some of Hà Nội’s top amateur ballers went toe to toe with Vietnam Basketball Association (VBA) professionals at the one-day tournament, with the VBA’s Thang Long Warriors coming out on top of the men’s event.
Starting at 1pm, hundreds of young basketball fans braved the scorching July heat to get an up-close and personal look at some of their heroes in action, and they didn’t disappoint, with high octane action played to the tune of pumping hip hop music the order of the day.
Lê Bá Nam Linh, vice general secretary of the HBF, told Việt Nam News that this weekend’s tournament was just the first step for the organization.
“Our mission is to continue to develop basketball and create more tournaments for the city’s basketball lovers and provide more facilities to make this sport more interesting for young people,” he said.
“We have only been established since last May, so the process of preparing and creating for the tournament like this has faced a lot of difficulties and challenges.
“But if you look in the crowd and the number of people going here at 2pm in the hot weather like this we consider it a successful tournament and I think from now to the end of the event there will be more people to come,” he added.
Fans watch on metres from some of their basketball heroes. VNS photo Đăng Nguyễn
Trần Ngọc Sơn, an amateur player who competed for Basket Sags told Việt Nam News that going up against some of the country’s top players was a dream come true.
“It was a great experience. Since I started playing basketball, I have always been dreaming to have a chance to be in a match against pro players just like this,” he said.
The pros were impressed with the set-up as and well and clearly revelled in the historic setting for the tournament.
“Today is a special day because this is the first time Hà Nội can host a basketball tournament on a walking street by Hoàn Kiếm Lake, it’s also great news for not only basketball lovers but also sport lovers,” said Thang Long Warriors point guard Nguyễn Phú Hoàng.
As well as the 12 men’s teams, four women’s teams competed throughout the day in front of the packed crowd.
The statue of King Lý Thái Tổ in the background of the court. — VNS Photo Đăng Nguyễn
“Normally, an event like this can attracts basketball lovers. But this event has interested not only basketball lovers but also many other people,” said Bùi Thu Thảo of the eventual women’s champions Fudo.
“Last night I couldn’t sleep. I felt very nervous but we also prepared very well for this event,” she added.
Fudo and the Warriors may have come away with championships, but it was clear the fans were the real winners, especially with the return of the VBA so uncertain.
“This is a great event for young people, especially for basketball lovers like us,” said young fan Nguyễn Việt Quang. — VNS