For the first time in history, an American father-daughter basketball duo hailing from San Antonio, Texas will compete in the SouthEast Asian games, being held this week in Hanoi. The coach and his daughter, one of 12 on the Vietnamese Women’s National Team, will hit the court in its first game on Monday, May 16.
Mailee Jones has been playing with the Vietnamese Women’s National Team since 2020. The 2016 graduate of Reagan High School and basketball stand-out holds dual citizenship and has resided in Ho Chi Minh City for over two years.
David “DJ” Jones is Founder of Shooting For Success, a youth basketball organization located in Stone Oak. Jones is a former professional player himself who played the majority of his career overseas – largely in Germany. He is known worldwide as “The Shot Doctor” for having trained professional Jeremy Lin pre-NBA draft. Vietnamese sport officials approached DJ prior to the pandemic about coaching the women’s national team as he visited with Mailee. DJ formally accepted the coaching position in late 2021.
“Vietnam is very interested in getting on the map as far as basketball goes,” Jones said. Jones added that it was an easy decision to accept the temporary coaching job. “It is a once in a lifetime opportunity to coach my daughter on a national team in something like the SEA games.”
Mailee Jones is the team’s starting point guard. She was a standout player at Ronald Reagan High School located in the Stone Oak area of Texas, who later played a short stint for Division I colleges in Ohio and Chicago before getting the opportunity to play for Vietnam.
Both Joneses accepted their positions knowing the jobs would challenge them both personally and professionally. Mailee, hailed across Vietnam for her shooting ability and basketball IQ, has said she’s had to familiarize herself with the FIBA style of basketball which includes a lot more running and endurance than what she was used to playing in the States. While home in San Antonio during much of the pandemic, Mailee Jones could be found regularly running the large hill along Stone Oak parkway leading up to Hardy Oak road.
Meantime, David Jones has had to battle the clock with his goal to medal in the SEA games – something the Vietnamese ladies have never done. The team’s practice schedule saw several delays to pandemic issues and some challenges with obtaining passports. Some girls only just arrived in mid-March. But the father and daughter agree that the team has developed a great chemistry in a short time period. They have trained daily putting in long hours in the gymnasium.
“The first thing I did in our training camp was change the culture of the team,” Jones said. “Everyone now believes in themselves and the team – they believe in success.”
Already, the Vietnamese Women’s National Team took silver in 3×3 basketball. It is a very good indicator of good things to come this week with 5×5, said Jones. Should the team live up to its hype and medal this year it will earn its first-ever bid to represent Vietnam in the Olympics.
The SEA games run through May 23. DJ and Mailee will return to San Antonio June 2.