The 2018 Vietnam Basketball Association (VBA) season is fast approaching and a key preseason event was held on Thursday afternoon. For the first time, the VBA draft included both heritage and local players in 2018’s edition. On top of this change, teams were allotted a protected list and given tags to place onto five players that other teams could not contact until the draft concluded, further solidifying the makings of an interesting event.

The first two picks of the draft ushered in newcomers to the league. The Danang Dragons selected big man Chris Dierker with the first overall selection while the Ho Chi Minh City Wings took point guard Corey Cillia shortly after at second. Dierker, a 6-foot-7 forward from Canton, Michigan, has had Vietnamese social media buzzing since the league announced his application to the draft earlier this year, and Cillia just wrapped up his senior year with NCAA Division II participants, the UC Santa Cruz Banana Slugs.

The first big move of the draft was made courtesy of the Hanoi Buffaloes with the team selecting Stefan Nguyen with the third overall pick. Stefan had missed the 2017 VBA season due to injury but continues to get important minutes with the Saigon Heat in the ongoing ASEAN Basketball League (ABL) season. Stefan might just be the player that the Buffaloes need after trading Nguyễn Phú Hoàng to the Cantho Catfish.

Other notable moves in the draft included the Saigon Heat bringing back 2016 league Rising Star winner Khoa Nguyen, Đặng Thái Hưng making a switch from the Hanoi Buffaloes to crosstown rivals the Thang Long Warriors, and the defending champs picking up veteran point guard Ngô Tuấn Trung.

Here’s how the draft played out:

Round 1

  1. Chris Dierker, Danang Dragons
  2. Corey Cillia, Hochiminh City Wings
  3. Stefan Nguyen, Hanoi Buffaloes
  4. Nguyễn Tiến Dương, Hanoi Buffaloes
  5. Khoa Tran, Saigon Heat
  6. Nguyễn Văn Hùng, Thang Long Warriors

Round 2

  1. Lê Văn Đầy, Danang Dragons
  2. Dư Minh An, Hochiminh City Wings
  3. Huỳnh Khang, Hanoi Buffaloes
  4. Nguyễn Lê Quốc Cường, Cantho Catfish
  5. Lê Ngọc Tú, Saigon Heat
  6. Đặng Thái Hưng, Thang Long Warriors

Round 3

  1. Đàm Huy Đại, Danang Dragons
  2. Phạm Thanh Tùng, Hochiminh City Wings
  3. Huỳnh Thanh Tâm, Hanoi Buffaloes
  4. Tăng Minh Trí, Cantho Catfish
  5. Nguyễn Huỳnh Hải, Saigon Heat
  6. Ngô Tuấn Trung, Thang Long Warriors