Tieu Chinh Nguyen, 74, was a familiar face at Phu Tho stadium, a popular playground for Saigon's basketball enthusiasts.

More commonly known as "A Xuc" or "Godfather" to employees and players who frequent the basketball courts at Phu Tho Stadium, Nguyen was often dressed in a basketball jersey and a pair of sneakers while practicing drills, engaging in a match or teaching skills to young players on the court.

On Jan. 21, Nguyen passed away due to an unknown accident, Web The Thao reports. His passing has sparked many emotional responses from the basketball community. From newcomers to senior players, many took to social media to share their memories and recount anecdotes about the city's "basketball godfather."


Credit: JackHoang / CC 1.0

A basketball court in Hanoi, Vietnam.

Coming from a Vietnamese-Chinese family, Nguyen first learned to play basketball while he was in the military and has been playing ever since. While Nguyen's day job involves cycling from his home in District 12 to neighboring areas selling lottery tickets, his devotion to the sport led him to travel all the way to Phu Tho Stadium every afternoon to practice basketball.

Many knew Nguyen for his signature hook shot, a maneuver in which a player standing perpendicular to the basket gently throws the ball using one hand. Nguyen's staple shot is sometimes done from beyond the three-point line and preceded by a spin move.

"I've been playing in Phu Tho for 10 years and still can't perfect the move; however, Xuc was always happy to teach me," writes an anonymous Facebook user, adding that Nguyen practices the hook shot every day, years after years. "In Phu Tho, whoever doesn't have a ball, Xuc will lend them his [sic]," the user continues.

"I only have sport; the basketball [court] is my happiest place. Nothing else is as enjoyable – not coffee shops, not sitting around or listening to music," Nguyen spoke on a TV show in broken Vietnamese.

Nguyen is survived by one son.

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The News Lens has been authorized to republish this article from Saigoneer, an English-language digital platform covering urban development, history, food, culture and the arts in Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) and throughout Vietnam. The original can be found here.

TNL Editor: Nick Aspinwall (@Nick1Aspinwall)

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