HO CHI MINH CITY – The Saigon Heat start their offseason aggressively by announcing 4 signings of players that have been starring in the Vietnam Basketball Association (VBA) this past season: Khoa Tran, Justin Young, Corey Cilia, and Chris Dierker.
Dierker and Cilia were VBA rookies while Young and Tran have three seasons of VBA experience on their belts. All players are of Vietnamese heritage.
The first signing announced by the Saigon Heat was Khoa Tran, who has played with the team in the VBA for two of his total three seasons. The 21-year-old has shown improvement over the years that he’s played in the VBA and averaged 16.7 points, 7.5 rebounds, 4.6 assists (led league), and 3.3 steals (led league) per game last season for the Heat. Tran is also widely known for his free-throw shooting ritual, hence the fondly given nickname “Mr. Wiggle”.
“I’m very excited to be joining the Saigon Heat for the ABL2018-2019. This is such a great opportunity for my journey and even though this is a bigger league, I’m ready to prove to people that I can still compete at a young age. I would like to say thanks to the Organization and Coaching staff for believing in me. I’m ready to get back to work now.” Tran says.
“We are very excited to have Khoa join the ABL team. I have always loved the way Khoa plays the game and I know he has the toughness and grit to contribute to enhancing the culture we are building here. Khoa fits the plan.” adds Saigon Heat Head Coach Kyle Julius about his new recruit.
The guard has displayed a flashy style of play and the Heat are hoping that he can still shine at the bigger stage in the ABL.
Even though Justin Young has never played for the Saigon Heat, the team is well aware of what he is capable of. His credentials made it an easy decision to pick him up for the upcoming ASEAN Basketball League 2017-2018 season. Young has played for the Ho Chi Minh City Wings and the Thang Long Warriors in three VBA seasons. He helped lead the Wings to the Finals in his rookie season and followed that up by going all the way with the Warriors in VBA 2017.
“Justin has been a premier player in the VBA the past few seasons. He is a champion and has proven himself in other international leagues. The way he plays embodies our culture of toughness and grit. I think he has the ability to be a major piece to the puzzle for us this season.” Coach Julius says of the acquisition.
Last season in the VBA, Young posted an average of 14.1 points, 9.8 rebounds, 3.0 assists, and 3.0 steals. Young won the VBA Defensive Player of the Year in 2016 and has always been among the finalists for the awards since.
“I’m very excited to play in the ABL this year! It has been one of my goals to play in this league and I want to thank the Saigon Heat organization for making this happen. I can’t wait to get to Saigon and start training with the guys and get this season going.” says Young.
Corey Cilia’s first season overseas was slowed down by injuries, but he managed to finish strong with the Ho Chi Ming City Wings. The sharpshooting guard logged 12.7 points, 3.7 rebounds, 1.7 assists, and 2.1 steals per game in 12 games of action. His 36.7% three-point shooting makes him a nice fit and a nice addition for Coach Kyle Julius’ system that favors good three-point shooting.
“Corey will have the opportunity to fight for major minutes and opportunities in our system. He is skilled and shows that he is not afraid to play our style. I am excited about working with Corey and having him join the SGH family!” says Coach Julius of adding the marksman to his ABL roster for this season.
“I look forward to joining the Saigon Heat this ABL season under Coach Kyle and Coach Singleton’s guidance. I know the ABL is a different beast than the VBA but I’ll be ready to tackle any challenges for the benefit of the team.” Cilia expresses.
Literally the biggest addition of the four recruits for the Saigon Heat is Chris Dierker who played his first season with the Danang Dragons. Dierker stands at 6’7″ and combining that with his skills resulted in a dominant rookie season where he averaged 20.5 points and 11.1 rebounds over the entire season. Saigon Heat lacked size in the front court last season and is on the right path of filling up that hole with the signing of Dierker.
“Chris will be a very important addition to our team and our culture. He brings size and toughness to our front line. I am really excited to help Chris become a high level pro and help him reach his potential. Chris has unique size and the potential to be major key to the growth and development of GRIT culture for a very long time.” Coach Kyle Julius says of his prized big man.
“I’m really excited and thankful to be able to join Saigon Heat for this upcoming season. I’m looking forward to being able to represent Vietnam and showcase my talent in one of better leagues in Asia.” adds Dierker.
These four signings are only the beginning of the Saigon Heat’s busy offseason which should be picking up steam soon now that the VBA season is officially over. Stay tuned to see what else the Heat and Kyle Julius has prepared for fans and opponents all over the league.