As mentioned quite repeatedly in my previous entries, I have been working based in Vietnam for the past year and change. In this recap, I shall be mainly mentioning the Vietnamese Squad because I am only a bit more familiar with them than the Indonesian Warriors. Throughout the season, I will get to know the Warriors better and I will work from that, but for now, I will work with what I know.
The Saigon Heat are led two defensive minded interior world imports (Justin Williams and Dustin Scott), a Philippino Point Guard (Froilan Baguion) and a half foreign local player, who seems to have a very promising ABL career ahead of him (David Arnold). If you think that sounds familiar, thats because that is basically almost the same structure as that of the Thai-based, Hi-Tech Bangkok City which is more throughly observed, here and here. Justin Williams, who was a highly talented collegiate player for the University of Wyoming and a former Sacramento King, looks to assume the role of Christian Charles. Dustin Scott can be the glue-guy/defensive stalwart like Steven Thomas. Baguion may have left a slight void in the Thai’s point guard slot, which Jerick Canada seems to be filling up nicely. David Arnold is radiating the kind of buzz that Wutipong “Reuben” Dasom was generating in his first years in the ABL. What separates these two teams apart are the rest of the supporting cast. The Saigon Heat have another star that Bangkok City seems to lack of in Leonidez Avenido, a former ABL Local MVP for the one-time champion Indonesia Warriors, but they compensate that with a much better supporting team. The rest of the Heat roster, from what I know, are from their D-Team which is a team that the Saigon Heat are in the process of developing and are still very young. These guys are promising prospects but they are still very green and less experienced than the more seasoned Thai squad.
This game against the Indonesia Warriors turned out to be a great debut for the Heat with a 72-56 point win. Here are the notable players for the Heat:
Justin Williams, the Former Sacramento King, made his Saigon Heat debut today.
It’s pretty obvious that Justin Williams should be the MVP of this game. Here are some interesting numbers:
- Of the 21(!) rebounds Justin grabbed, 7 of them were offensive rebounds.
- The Heat took 7 more shots than the Warriors (71-64).
- The Heat made 7 more shots than the Warriors (27-20).
- The Heat won by a total of 16 points, or 8 two-point shots.
It’s not perfect math, but it could very well be assumed that those 7 offensive rebounds led to 7 more made attempts that led to those 7 more made shots. That alone would account for a 14 point differential. This is without taking into account for the 18 points he scored. By the numbers, Justin Williams was this game’s Most Valuable Player. His defense was great, but it still left quite a lot to be desired from someone who was the 2005-2006 Mountain West Conference (MWC) Defensive Player of the Year, led the MCW and ranked 11th in blocked shots in 2004-2005, and once got a triple-double with points, rebound, and blocks.
He had couple of monster blocks and he used his length to disrupt plenty of opposing shots but still reacted quite too many times to the Indonesia Warriors pump fakes. I am sure he will adapt to the less athletic ways of the ABL and be a dominant inside presence for the Saigon Heat.
Justin Williams, after shooting 2-7 from the Free throw line also needs to work a bit on his free throws, an improvement he knew he needed to make even before the game ended.
As a Thai basketball fan, even as a brand new one, you hear the name “Baguion” being tossed around a lot. Baguion “The Magician” was a huge part of the 2010-2011 Chang Thai Slammers ABL championship squad and a part of the 2013 Sports Rev Thailand Slammers. Most Thai fans seemed to be a bit disappointed that Baguion’s contract was not resigned with the new management, and even though Canada seems to make fans move on from Baguion, watching him play this game makes me kind of wish he was still playing for Thailand. Where Canada is speed and explosion, Baguion seems to go along at his own pace waiting for the perfect moment to thread the needle to his teammates. Comparing him as an ASEAN Ricky Rubio might be a bit of a stretch, but it gives you a picture of how creative and precise his passes are and how they resulted in 7 assists in this game. With a combination of herky jerky dribble and fakes, Baguion seems to be the closest thing to a magician on the basketball court as his nickname suggests.
Baguion plays very unselfishly and is a great pick up for a young team to absorb his unselfishness into a habit. Saigon Heat fans should be ready for a season full of highlights from this talented point guard who Joe Bryant compares to CP3 and Steve Nash.
David Harrison Arnold
I got to know who David Arnold was a couple of months ago when I first decided to get a hold of my balls and ride a motorbike in Vietnam to go play some pick up at an international school.
Note: Riding a motorbike in Vietnam is as scary as it is to cross a road in Vietnam. You’ll probably come out safe because everything is moving so slow, but you’ll probably piss your pants during the process as well.
Any how, I made it to the international school miraculously in one piece and headed my way up to the gym only to find that I was there on the wrong day. Justin Williams probably knows how I felt.
Luckily enough, the Saigon Heat D-Team were have a shoot-around that day and I got to watch and chat with their coach Jason Rabedeaux for a bit. One player really stood out as physically and skillfully ready for professional basketball and that guy was David.
That was the point where I really got intrigued with the Saigon Heat team. They seemed to have an interesting approach to popularizing basketball in Vietnam with the whole concept of the D-Team and bringing in Vietnamese players that grew up in foreign Countries. Another foreign half-Vietnamese is Ryan Le from Canada, who seems to be a good player in his own rights but is restricted from playing in the ABL this season. I look forward to follow the progress of Vietnamese Basketball development with David and the rest of the D-Team paving the way.
On the court, David was known to be a pure shooter from his college ball days, once going off for a 7-11 three-point shooting for 35 points. For his entire senior year, he shot a very decent 43 FG%, 40 3P%, and 77 FT%.
In this game, he played his exact role he was brought in to play, making two out of 5 three-pointers and 5 out of 9 shots. David has a sweet looking jump shot and he has a confidence of that a great shooter.
Outside of Basketball, David seems to handle interviews pretty well for a rookie and he oozes leadership whenever he’s on the court.
ABL fans, this is a rookie you should keep your eyes on.
Kindle of the Heat
For Vietnamese Basketball, the most important part of this game was the final minute. This was the one minute that all of the local Vietnamese players were on the court at the same time. No offense, but I feel that the talent level difference was quite clear between the young heat (can we call them the Kindling?) and the seasoned Warriors. Nevertheless, the Kindling showed great effort and chased down the ball on defense and just kept on running. For us spectators, it might have just been one minute of basketball, but I feel that it might have been one of the most important minute of basketball for Vietnam.
The next game, the Saigon Heat will play another Indonesian team, Laskar Dreya South Sumatra at Canadian International School. I will be at the stadium with courtside tickets, so I will probably have some more fun details coming into the next entry. That’s right, Tigger. I’m expecting you to bring your A-Game.
Note: I do not know the real name of the mascot, and if anyone could enlighten me, that would be marvelous.
For those who cannot be at the venue, the game will be available through a live stream on Youtube and Local Vietnamese Television.
What are your thoughts on the next game, Froilan Baguion?