In the build up to the 2018 VBA season, we wanted to go past the stats and get to know the players better. First in our Players Circle series, we talk with the 2016 Rising Star winner Khoa Tran. Affectionately known as “Mr Wiggle” by his fans for his unique free throw routine, Khoa first joined the league in the inaugural season as one of Saigon Heat’s Heritage Players. He joined the Danang Dragons mid-season in 2017, and now he’s back to where his professional career started with the Saigon Heat for 2018. Here’s our conversation with Khoa Tran.

AS: What does basketball mean to you?

Khoa: What got me into basketball was my neighborhood. That’s all they played so right when I touched a basketball I fell in love with it right away. Basketball was something that kept me out of trouble and was the reason that made me the person I am today.

AS: How do you feel about returning to the Heat?

Khoa: I feel good about returning to the Heat. This is where my first season of playing basketball overseas started and I always had a feeling I was going to play for the Heat again. The team has always been great to me. Since my family is from Saigon, it just feels good to play for a team where it all started. The fans are amazing, they’re always showing me love and giving me gifts.

AS: What are your personal goals for 2018?

Khoa: My goal will be the same for every season and that’s to win a championship. I believe I bring a lot to the table, with my energy on defense and how fast I move around the court. Even though I’m a young player, I feel like throughout the offseason I’ve matured, and learned a lot of new things to help lead this team to success. I have a feeling I’ll being getting over that hump this season.

AS: Basketball is synonymous with shoes. Which brand(s) are your favorite?

Khoa: I will be wearing a lot of different type of shoes this season. From Nikes to Jordans and Adidas. I love shoes and have too many shoes to choose from. If i had to choose one, I’d have to go with Nike. They’re always come out with the best shoes.

AS: You’ve had a pretty exciting offseason, which included a training session with a 3 time NBA Slam Dunk Champion. What was it like working with Nate Robinson?

Khoa: It was great training with him. After seeing things from a better perspective, I’ve improved on my skills. He gave me good tips on how be a better player, emphasizing that it’s all about repetition.

AS: Being 7,500 miles from home during the season, how do you deal with being homesick?

Khoa: Something that helps me out a lot is my Playstation 4 and playing video games with the homies. I always video call my family and friends so it’s a good thing technology is so high tech now. Just being around basketball helps remind me of home. Basketball is apart of my life so being on the basketball court feels just like home.

AS: What’s on your playlist for pregame prep?

Khoa: 1) God’s Plan – Drake, 2) Ric Flair Drip – Offset & Metro Boomin, 3) Do What I Want – Lil Uzi Vert, 4) Gang Gang – Migos, 5) Saint – Travis Scott & Quavo

AS: Do you have any advice for ballers overseas when it comes to playing in the VBA?

Khoa: The Vietnam basketball atmosphere is just growing, so there’s a lot of excitement going on. Coming to play in Vietnam will be a one time experience you wouldn’t want to miss.