In the opening match of the 2023 VBA season on June 11, the Hanoi Buffaloes suffered a disappointing loss at home to the reigning champions, the Saigon Heat.

Reflecting on the defeat, coach Erik Rashad expressed his displeasure at losing the first match on home turf, especially against the defending champions who demonstrated an impressive performance, scoring 54 points from beyond the three-point line.

Udun Osakue (blue jersey) brings a fresh energy to the Hanoi Buffaloes. Photo: VBA

In response to the setback, Rashad made several strategic changes to improve the performance of the team.

One of the key changes was the inclusion of Udun Osakue, a new foreign player, to enhance the team’s playing style.

Nguyen Tien Duong (blue jersey) leads a counterattack, securing victory for the Hanoi Buffaloes. Photo: VBA

The team also showed an improved defensive prowess, applying pressure across the court and executing quick counterattacks.

One of the highlights for Rashad was when his players employed defensive strategies that forced the opponents to turn over the ball 31 times, resulting in 41 points in a single match.

During their journey, the Hanoi Buffaloes achieved significant milestones, including a record-setting seven-match winning streak, securing the top spot in the semifinals, and establishing a scoring record of 115 points since the beginning of the season.

The Hanoi Buffaloes (blue jersey) outperform the Saigon Heat at the end of the group stage. Photo: VBA

After almost two and a half months since their opening defeat, the Hanoi Buffaloes faced a rematch against the Saigon Heat and secured a thrilling 81-79 victory.

With two matches remaining, the team aims to finish the group stage in the top position.

Summing up the journey, coach Rashad emphasized the importance of finishing strong, regardless of how the journey starts.