Friday, 03 October 2014 23:50

Sports Digest

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From the sidelines, Harry Hodge sizes up Vietnam’s month in sports


In Brief


Over and Out For An Giang


Vietnam News reported in September that Hung Vuong An Giang have been dissolved after their relegation from V-League to V-League 2 this season. A lack of funds was the primary reason. An Giang was promoted to the national premier league in 2013 after a 16-year wait, but managed to stay in V-League for only one year.


Footballers Score Criminal Sentences


Tuoi Tre has reported that a Vietnamese court recently ruled against nine football players from V-League club The Vissai Ninh Binh for betting on their own game at an Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Cup in March. Tran Manh Dung, a 24-year-old midfielder, was given a 30-month sentence for instigating the betting.


Vietnam’s ‘Messi’ Makes Headlines


Vietnamese striker Cong Phuong scored the lone goal in a 1-0 win over Australia at the ASEAN Football Federation’s Nutifood U-19 Cup in Hanoi, Thanh Nien reported. The 19-year-old captain, hailing from Hoang Anh Gia Lai Arsenal JMG Football Academy, was likened to Barcelona FC’s star Lionel Messi after passing six Australian defenders to rip a rocket past the Australian goalie, drawing worldwide acclaim in so doing.


Octagenarian Overachiever


The Asia Book of Records recognised 83-year-old Vietnamese citizen Huynh Van Rang for climbing the 3,143-metre-high Mount Fansipan four times in northern Vietnam, according to Tuoi Tre. The Vietnam Book of Records and the Hoang Lien Ecological Tourism and Environmental Education Center also recognised his exploit.



The Heat Lose a Legend



While the Saigon Heat are having their best season on the hardwood, this will go down as one of the toughest years in the team’s short history.


In their latest campaign in the ASEAN Basketball League (ABL), the Heat have already eclipsed their win total from any of their previous seasons, and might finally make the playoffs. But, in light of the events of Sep. 22, much of the enthusiasm surrounding this season has been extinguished.


Just hours after a crucial 72-61 victory over archrivals the Indonesia Warriors — the Heat claiming fourth-place in the standings, the best they’ve ranked this late in any season — head coach Jason Rabedeaux was found unconscious after a fall in his home, and died en route to the hospital on the morning of Monday, Sep. 22.


An outpouring of emotion flooded the Internet in the hours following his death, with fans and staff from his day at the University of Texas-El Paso to those who followed him during his coaching days in China, all were in disbelief at the loss of the larger-than-life ‘Coach Rabs’ at just 49 years of age.


“A solid guy whose enthusiasm for life was infectious,” said veteran ABL columnist Sean Farquhar on Twitter. “He will be missed by many.”


Having covered the Heat from their first press conference almost three years ago, Rabedeaux was the one constant on a team that finally seems to have figured out how to win. From the mid-season departure of former NBA player Julius Hodge in the team’s first year, to sitting through games where the Heat were down to eight players last season, it’s been a test of patience for the club’s raucous fan base and those of us covering the team.


But this season, American Justin Williams has been a force for the Heat. The former NBA cager with the Houston Rockets and Sacramento Kings was in particularly fine form in a game at the end of September against cellar-dwellers Laskar Dreya, savaging them with a triple-double that included 13 blocks. Fellow American Dustin Scott and Vietnamese-American David Arnold provide more size for the squad, while Filipino imports Leo Avenido and Froilan Baguion bring extensive ABL experience to the table.


In what would be one of our last interviews together, an excited Rabedeaux waxed poetic about how far the team had come during a win earlier in the month against Sumatran side Laskar Dreya.


“It’s a whole new team,” he said, with obvious pride after that win. “I’m confident, but there are still many games left.”


But for Coach Rab, it’s a season — and a career — which ended far too early. If this team can keep on winning, that would be the ultimate tribute to one of the game’s true nice guys.



Hat Tipped For Hanoi


One of the ultimate experiences in Southeast Asia is returning to Hanoi.


Since the first Vietnam Hat ultimate Frisbee tourney took place in Hanoi in 2004, the Vietnam Hat Ultimate Tournament hasn’t returned, being held in Ho Chi Minh City for the last nine years.


This year, Vietnam Hat organisers have decided to relocate Vietnam Hat 2014 to Hanoi, to help not only grow the scene in that city but to take advantage of the cooler December temperatures. This will be one of the highlights of the Southeast Asian ultimate calendar, joining the ranks of tournaments in Cambodia, The Philippines and elsewhere.


The tournament will be held from Dec. 20 to Dec. 21 in Hanoi, and the VND1.7 million entry fee includes games, a disc, lunches, dinner, party drinks, shuttle buses and plenty of free beer.


For more information, visit


Stadium Rocked


According to Thanh Nien and Tuoi Tre, officials have blamed shoddy construction for a shocking ceiling collapse at a Ho Chi Minh City stadium midway through an international badminton tournament.


Miraculously, no one was injured when 40 square metres of plaster ceiling collapsed onto the court at Phan Dinh Phung Stadium in Ho Chi Minh City in September. A Taiwanese player noticed dust beginning to fall, and a referee was able to clear the court before the deluge descended from the ceiling. The collapse was heavily viewed on YouTube before the video’s eventual removal. The accident has drawn widespread outcry.


The Vietnam Badminton Open 2014 continued after organisers relocated the event to another stadium in the city. More than 270 players from 15 countries and regions competed for a total prize of US$50,000 (VND1.06 billion).


Dominant in Danang


Vietnamese runners dashed to eight medals at the Danang International Marathon during the Labour Day long weekend.


The marathon attracted more than 3,600 athletes from over 25 countries and territories to compete in a full marathon, a half-marathon and a 5km ‘fun run’.
In the full marathon, Vietnam swept the podium on the men’s side, with Tran Van Loi on top, Hoang Nguyen Thanh taking silver and Nguyen Van Long nabbing bronze. On the women’s side, Hoang Thi Thanh took gold with Denmark’s Annete Haudrun taking second.


In the half-marathon, Do Quoc Luat, Le Tuan and Bui The Anh finished 1-2-3 for the men, and Phung Thi Hang took the women’s division.


All proceeds from the event benefitted Danang Cancer Hospital.


Swans in Manila


Fresh off a September triumph against the Philippine Eagles, the Vietnam Swans are concluding their year against Asia’s best Australian Rules Football squads.
Teams from The Philippines, Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia, China, Vietnam and many more countries will be fighting it out for the AFL Asian Championship in The Philippines on Oct. 11.


The day consists of three round-robin pool matches per team, and then final matchups. To make it all the way, a team has to win six games of football.
“The Swans have players from all parts of Vietnam... or from countries such as Canada, Ireland, USA, Korea and more,” says Vietnam Swans national president Josh Lee. “We really pride ourselves on welcoming people from all over.”


The event caps a season that saw the Swans come up just short at the Indochina Cup in Thailand in August.


Last modified on Friday, 27 February 2015 13:22
Harry Hodge

Harry Hodge has written for publications across Canada and Asia, including Metro Edmonton, 24 Hours Toronto, the Korea Herald and many more. In Vietnam you've either read his sports column or seen him pitching skin cream in Vietnamese TV commercials. Follow him on Twitter at @hodgedude or send him a note about your sports events at

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