This week’s edition of Players Circle is a chat with Nguyễn Phú Hoàng. Known as Hoàng Ca to his fans, Hoàng is best known for this time with the Hanoi Buffaloes as one-half of the Flash Brothers. However, he will be going into this third VBA season with a new club, the Cantho Catfish. We talked to him about his relationship with basketball, his winter playing in the Thai Basketball Super League (TBSL) with Mekong United and are his goals for the upcoming season. Here’s our interview with Nguyễn Phú Hoàng.

AS: Access to basketball was probably hard for you when you were growing up in Vietnam. How did you get into the sport?

Hoàng: I was introduced to the sport through the Japanese anime series “Slam Dunk” and my twin brother Dat. He brought home our first basketball when we were younger. Little did I know that it would have much impact on my life as my love for the game was slowly growing up within me.

AS: What does basketball mean to you? What impact has it made on you?

Hoàng: Basketball means a lot to me. Everyone that knows me knows how much I love the game, and how often I practice it. It’s so easy for my friends to find me when they can’t reach me by phone, they know they just have go to the basketball court and I’ll be there.

Basketball has made a huge impact on my life. It literally helped me become a better person. For example, I used to be very weak (easily got sick). Ever since I started playing the sport and practicing often, not only has my body gotten stronger but my health as well. I used to be very hot headed, would get into trouble a lot. But then basketball came into my life, and slowly I realized that things could be solve differently instead of just being hot head or picking a fight . Last but not least, basketball is my sanctuary. It helps me get away from all the stress, the troubles that I face daily. So yeah, I could say that it has made a big impact on me and continues to change me for the better.

AS: How do you think you can help Cantho to get back to the Finals? Do you think your time with Mekong United helped give you a head start in Coach Yurkus’ system?

Hoàng: I have a lot of confidence in myself, my teammates and coach Kevin Yurkus. Alone, I wouldn’t be able to take us there, but together, I’m sure we’ll once again make a run for the trophy.

I think my time with Mekong United absolutely helped me to buy in the system that coach Kevin is building. Even though I didn’t have many opportunities to play in TBSL, I received a lot of advice from better players on the team (such as Matt Van Pelt, Kevin Dasom, Kevin Van Hook, Nick Demusis and especially from coach Yurkus as well). I’m sure everyone will see a different player in me this upcoming VBA season.

AS: What did you bring to Thailand to help you feel less homesick?

Hoàng: I’ve travel a lot so I don’t really get homesick. Most of the time, I would hit the gym with my teammates then we’d have team practice or I just simply hung out with them so I didn’t have much time being alone.

AS: Which shoe brands are your favorites? Which ones will you be wearing this season?

Hoàng: I’m a Nike guy. So, I usually bring out pretty much just Nike shoes (including Jordans). Last season, I played in the Kyrie 3 IDs that that matched the Hanoi Buffaloes colors, and the Jordan XX8s. This coming VBA season, it’s gonna be different since I’m going to be with the Catfish. I’m still having trouble picking which ones I’m going to play in. I guess the fans just have to wait and see.

AS: What’s on your pregame playlist?

Hoàng: My playlist would depend on my mood, but if I have to narrow them down, I would mostly listen to:
Someday – Flipsyde
Greatness – Wiley
Ambition – Wale
Plain Jane – ASAP Ferg
God’s plan – Drake
Rivers – Eminem