The first two episodes of the series about the journey towards the 2021 Southeast Asian (SEA) Games of the Vietnamese team, which is titled “We Are Red & Gold” and released on the verified Facebook page of the Vietnam Basketball Federation (VBF), unveiled the causes of the team’s failure and the pressure coach Kevin Yurkus faced at the 2021 VBA.
Kevin Yurkus joined the Vietnamese national basketball team before leading the Saigon Heat.
After the 2018 VBA, he became the technical director of the Vietnamese team, planning the team’s strategy for the 2019 SEA Games.
After the sporting event in the Philippines, Yurkus started making preparations for its 2021 edition in Vietnam, which has been delayed to 2022 due to COVID-19 and prompted the Vietnamese team to attend the VBA as a warm-up in the meantime.
|The Vietnamese national basketball team’s Justin Young dribbles the ball during a game at the VBA-NTU Arena. Photo: VBA
“The Vietnamese team needed a specific plan,” Justin Young, a player of the team, said in the series.
“This year’s VBA experimental series was the first step.
“Although there were no international friendlies, these experimental matches showed us where we are.”
Coach Kevin Yurkus also said that the determination to achieve higher medals at the SEA Games was shared among the Vietnamese basketball team’s members, who hold an extremely close connection and give top priority to the team’s missions as they know that fans are always looking forward to their success at the SEA Games hosted by Vietnam.
The Vietnamese team brought four Vietnamese-born and eight Vietnamese players to the VBA Premier Bubble Games – Brought to you by NovaWorld Phan Thiet 2021 to compete against seven other professional clubs.
Yurkus said it was hard for his team’s players to get along with each other in the beginning as they hailed from different clubs.
The fact that the VBA organization strictly adhered to local pandemic prevention rules, with its schedule adjusted multiple times, was another challenge.
“We could not know the exact timeline of the matches because it depended on the developments of the pandemic,” said Justin Young.
“That’s why everyone had to practice with what was available.”
|The Vietnamese national basketball team’s coach Kevin Yurkus discusses a strategy with his players during a game at the VBA Premier Bubble Games 2021. Photo: VBA
Meanwhile, Vietnamese player Le Ngoc Tu pointed out in the reportage series the Vietnamese team’s weakness when playing inside the three-point arch.
“When defending, we were drawn into the arch too much, inadvertently revealing the holes outside and creating opportunities for the opponents to score points,” Tu said.
Coach Yurkus admitted that the team’s heavy defeats in the first games made them realize the VBA was beyond their imagination and come up with new changes.
However, it takes time to bond many strong personalities into a closely-knit team.
In the absence of star player Khoa Tran, it was difficult for coach Kevin Yurkus to balance the remaining players in the formation for each game while avoiding injuries that could cause further loss of manpower.