VIETNAM accepts the fact it would never end up winning this year’s Southeast Asia Basketball Association (Seaba) Championship.
But the Vietnamese do love to play the role as the tournament’s spoiler.
The team which its coach describes as ‘scrappy’ and ‘feisty’ makes its debut on Saturday against Thailand to open hostilities in the second day of the qualifier for both the 2019 FIBA World Cup qualifiers and the FIBA Asia Cup.
The Thais, among the teams considered to give fancied Gilas Pilipinas a semblance of fight in the week-long meet, opened their campaign Friday by rallying behind Malaysia to score a 74-67 win.
The Vietnamese, with an average height of 6-foot-2 and playing mostly in the Vietnam Basketball Association (VBA), hope to complete what the Malaysians failed to do as coach Donte Hill vowed to pull off the first upset of the tournament.
“I’m excited to compete and bring out my A-game and put it to the test. I love competing,” said the 38-year-old Hill, who previously played in the Continental Basketball Association, on the eve of the meet.
It’s like Marshman where they always upset somewhere. Hopefully Vietnam would be the team doing that.”
Pulling off surprises is nothing new to Hill.
He steered the Danang Dragons to the inaugural championship of the VBA despite being the last seeded team going to the playoffs. And the Englishman wants Vietnam to have the same approach in the Seaba.
“We’re gonna work hard, were gonna dive for the loose balls, play team basketball, and play hard to give it our best effort,” he stressed.