First steps for a Vietnam team
by rick olivares
Donte Lavar Hill is used to adversity and supreme challenges. He oversaw the promotion of the Tsukuba Robots from the second tier to the top flight basketball league in Japan. He guided a disparate Da Nang Dragons to a Vietnamese Basketball Association championship. And now, he’s going to the Seaba Championships with only nine men on the roster.
That isn’t the worst of it. Hill knows that the Philippines are heavily favored to annex the 2017 Seaba championship.
“That’s why we play the game,” reasoned out the American coach who hails from Michigan. “You’ll never know what can happen until it’s all played out.”
During his college days, Hill played for Ferris State College Michigan then took his talents as a combo guard into the Continental basketball Association. He also worked as a basketball analyst on television before making the leap into coaching.
“You can say that my father had an influence in that decision,” said Hill.
Now in Vietnam, Hill is excited about the growth of the game in a country of close to 92 million. Hill just guided the Da Nang Dragons to the first ever Vietnam Basketball Association championship. “It’s an exciting time for the game in Vietnam,” offered Hill. “There’s a growth and excitement to the game. We’re still miles away from all our neighbors but you have to take the first step. As for me, my role is to help it grow. To teach new concepts and ways of understanding the game to the Vietnamese who know only football as their sport. There are concepts on what it takes to be a pro athlete that I can help out with. I believe in direction for Vietnam basketball.”
For the Seaba competition, only nine players made the trip to Manila. “Most times, you have an eight-man rotation,” explained Hill. “This helps me out as a coach in helping develop this crew. All our players are in shape as we are just off the 3x3 tournament as well as the national tournament. I think we have the right guys.”
“The expectations are to compete in a high level. Obviously this is my first time with this group. But we are all representing something bigger than our individual selves. However, if we committed to working together, nine players can make something happen.”