The Saigon Heat have officially released a preliminary roster in anticipation of their 2017-2018 ABL campaign, which opens up on December 9th against the Formosa Dreamers. However, that list and the players present at Tuesday afternoon’s press conference may or may not be completely set in stone just yet. Upon first glance, the striking detail is the quality of players that the Vietnam-based team has assembled.
Word has already been out for some time that the Heat have named Akeem Scott and Travele Jones as their world imports. Veteran guards David Arnold and Stefan Nguyen have been retained, Catfish star forward Tam Dinh has been signed, and the ABL side has decided to take Huynh Hai and Le Ngoc Tu, locals from their VBA squad, along for the ride.
In addition to those players, the roster is ridden with some of the biggest and best names in Vietnam’s basketball scene. The list of players include the Can Tho Catfish’s Sang Dinh (12), the Thang Long Warriors’ Justin Young (13) and To Quang Trung, the Danang Dragons’ Horace Nguyen (4), Tim Waale and Khoa Tran (11), along with adding another member of their VBA squad, Hong Gia Lan.
The glaring question here is: With so many “Viet Kieu” (overseas Vietnamese-heritage person) players being named, what will their roster designations for the season be? It should be noted that the document does say “list of players participating in training sessions,” so perhaps some of the players named will be part of the Heat practice squad, similar to Horace’s role last season before he officially joined the team midway through their 2016-2017 campaign.
During Saigon Heat’s press conference, General Manager Connor Nguyen was asked a question regarding the risks the Saigon Heat may be taking as far as player eligibility goes, especially given that Horace Nguyen was unable to participate at the 2017 SEA Games this past summer despite practicing and travelling with the national team that went to Kuala Lumpur.
Connor was optimistic with his response and stated, “The rules of eligibility for the ABL are very specific to the league. Who can count as a local player, who can count as an ASEAN or Heritage player, who counts as an import. We’re confident that we can work with the league, and the players that we select will become eligible.”
The organization continues to show their commitment to winning a championship by bringing together their strongest roster to date, alongside a head coach in Kyle Julius who is no stranger to winning championships. We’ll just have to wait until the start of their season to see exactly what they’re up to, but Saigon Heat and basketball fans in Vietnam should be very excited for what lies just beyond the horizon.