With no import guard brought onto the team for its 2019-20 ASEAN Basketball League (ABL) campaign, the Saigon Heat has opted for Vietnamese-Dutch point guard Vincent Nguyen as part of its local lineup.
After the additions of seven-footer Christien Charles, and forwards Gary Forbes and Sam Thompson, the Vietnamese club has taken a different direction as far as import signings go under new head coach Kevin Yurkus.
In the team’s previous two seasons under Kyle Julius, the Saigon Heat had an import guard running its offense with Akeem Scott (2017-18) and Trevon Hughes (2018-19). And in those two same seasons, the team also experienced its first non-losing campaign (10 wins and 10 losses in 2017-18) and its first playoff win (won Game 2 of its quarterfinals matchup against the CLS Knights last season).
For its upcoming ABL campaign, the team looks prepared to hand off point guard duties to a cast of local-designated standouts, at a position saturated with a handful of the league’s best players. The addition of Vincent Nguyen assures the Heat that it will be going into the 2019-20 season with another top player from Vietnam’s domestic ranks, at that very position.
Since being selected with the second overall pick in the 2017 Vietnam Basketball Association (VBA) Draft by the Hanoi Buffaloes, Nguyen has been widely regarded as the league’s top point guard for his ability to shoot from long range and steady hand in running a team’s offense. Additionally, he is also an underrated defender who has shown a knack for disrupting passing lanes.
At the end of the 2019 VBA regular season, Nguyen ranked second overall in the league in both assists (4.1) and steals (3.1) per game, while helping lead the Ho Chi Minh City Wings (traded from the Buffaloes for Henry Nguyen in the preceding offseason) to its first postseason appearance since 2016, but were ultimately swept by the Saigon Heat in the semifinals.
For his contributions, he was selected as the VBA’s top heritage player at the league’s awards ceremony following the end of the 2019 season.
Nguyen will be joined by fellow VBA heritage player and 2019 league MVP Tam Dinh, creating a formidable backcourt and solid local foundation for the Heat.
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