A Saigon Heat game in Ho Chi Minh City is the hottest sporting ticket in town. Every home game is sold out to a boisterous and passionate crowd. There are cheerleaders and young people in the crowd. The sport of basketball is taking off in Vietnam. If you’re lucky enough to watch a Saigon Heat game, you may recognize a familiar face on the team.
The face is that of a 6’5″ TaeKwonDo Olympian who competed in the Heavyweight division and won 3 gold medals in the SEA games and competed in Beijing ’08 and was a flag bearer for his country, Vietnam. His name is Nguyen Van Hung.
Nguyen Van Hung is now a professional basketball player for the Saigon Heat of the VBA (Vietnamese Basketball Association) and the ABL (ASEAN Basketball League). He is the tallest Vietnamese on the team and is listed as a Center. Atlhough the team does have imported American players, the team also boast several Vietnamese Americans who was born and trained in the USA.
David Arnold and Horance Nguyen both played basketball at youths in USA and is now playing for the Saigon Heat. Stefan Nguyen is a Swedish Vietnamese who is also now on the team.
Nguyen Van Hung was signed as one of the twelve players for Saigon Heat at 2016-2017 ABL. The hype is high as for the first time can Heat fans watch the Thanh Hoa man play at an international league.
His journey to basketball is beyond any intention but what he has done is extraordinary. From the starting point of a Taekwondo athlete, a Vietnamese sports star who has won numerous titles from minor to major, there must be nobody to think that Nguyen Van Hung can be a good basketball player.
Nguyen Van Hung Won the Sea Games Gold Medal in Taekwondo
He started playing for Saigon Heat in the first half of 2015, but not until he took part in 2016 VBA with the team did people have the chance to watch him.
And he did not fail to satisfy. The big man is one of few-and-far-between locals who can play 1-on-1 against foreign giants with good block and steal skills. Undeniably, both the Coach and the teammates can feel at ease having him by their side. Taking part in 17 matches, 14 of which in the starting lineup, he is the local player coming first in terms of number of games and numbers of MPG. Besides Christien Charles and Lenny Daniel, now we also have this Vietnamese giant to hold back opposing import players.
There will be many fans speculating on his ability, as his layup, free throw and dribbling skills are not up to expectations. However, his main responsibility as a center is to block, defend and rebound. In the last VBA season, he registered nearly 7 rebounds, 1.12 steals and 0.53 block on the average. It is not over-estimating when saying he is one of the Local MVP of this season.
Nonetheless Nguyen Van Hung clearly has to improve his scoring and free throw skills as a defensive asset, 8.71 points and 30 FG% per game is a subtle number to a center.
An athlete who has reached the peak of his career like Nguyen Van Hung definitely knows what to prepare for such a competitive league. “As to me fans have been longing to bring the trophy home. It has been 3 seasons, and I don’t want to let them wait any longer. Believe in us. If I ever have the chance to play, I will play at my best. Because I know it is harsh in ABL.
Generally, Nguyen Van Hung is a reliable local talent, a necessary addition to the team. A fierce center on the court and a source of spiritual support in the game, it is great to have his service on our boster.