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Vietnamese frown on naturalized athletes


PHNOM PENH, Cambodia — Vietnam currently leads the overall medal tally in the ongoing Southeast Asian Games and takes pride in fielding homegrown athletes.

In basketball, Vietnam did not follow the practice of most countries and stuck to local players.

The only concession was the hiring of American coach Todd Purves along with several members of his coaching staff.

A well-traveled bench tactician, Purves served as a consultant of San Miguel Beer in the Philippine Basketball Association for two seasons.

“I can remember Game 7 of the championship series against Tim Cone’s team, San Mig Coffee and the atmosphere was really electric,” Purves said.

He is no stranger to seeing naturalized players and even imports playing in different leagues.

As a coach in the Asean Basketball League in 2012, he helped the Indonesia Warriors win the championship against the Beermen, then the club team representing the Philippines in the ABL.

That served as Purves’ ticket to coaching in the PBA for the Beermen and his eventual appointment as coach of the Vietnamese national team.


In basketball, Vietnam did not follow the practice of most countries and stuck to local players.


Purves explained why Vietnam is shunning naturalized players.

“We saw other teams bringing in as many naturalized players as they can. But that’s not the direction of Vietnam as it wants to give opportunities to its local athletes and make them better,” Purves said.

“We were going toe-to-toe with Indonesia, but unfortunately we couldn’t sustain our energy in the second half as the presence of the American players was too much.”

Indonesia survived Vietnam, 88-82, on 12 May.

Vietnam could only win one of three games in the group stages and failed to reach the semifinal round.

Naturalized players had become the trend now in the SEA Games with host Cambodia taking advantage of it by bringing in 12 naturalized players to represent its cricket team.

In basketball, the host country also brought in American players as reinforcements, both in the men’s and women’s events.

The men’s team had European League veterans Sayeed Pridgett and Darrin Dorsey, Brandon Peterson, Dwayne Morgan and Darius Henderson.

Cambodia fielded an all-naturalized squad in the 3×3 women’s basketball competition — Brittany Binkins, Mariah Cooks, Kimberly Hanlon and Meighan Simmons.



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