Quang Do Ngoc spares no energy in his game, even if the small table he plays on is crowded by a partner.

A match of doubles bong ban -- known in the United States as table tennis or Ping Pong -- at the North American Vietnamese Olympics yesterday kept him swinging enthusiastically back and forth, fighting off a few slick serves and adding an occasional slam.

He and his equally revved partner, Le Dinh, had no trouble in the early round of the tournament, 21-10, 21-11. In fact, he claims that he "wasn't even playing my game. If you beat them 21-2 or 21-3 then they don't want to play you any more," he said, almost apologetically.

He might be a rare case at the NAVO '87 games, being held at the University of Maryland through Wednesday.

Throughout venues of the eight games being played, there is clearly an atmosphere in which camaraderie reigns.

But Do's intensity may be justified. After all, he says he's twice been national champion of Vietnam. He also experienced life as a professional table tennis player there, a life he speaks of with a wide grin and a thumbs-up. "Oh, it's super," he says. "You can live on it."

But his expression changes when the subject turns to why he gave up that life. He defected in 1980, and lives now in Vienna, Va. Without any prompting, the words "no freedom" are spoken.

Life in the United States has been better, but there's one thing that gets a thumbs-down.

"No tables, not many players," he said. "You have some players here, some in Boston and some in California, but it's difficult to put everybody together."

Long Ung, 28, though not as serious a player as Ngoc, expressed similar regrets. "I haven't touched a {paddle} in seven years," said Ung, a former player at Virginia Tech who lives in Annandale.

"I changed to tennis, because in tennis you've got courts everywhere. If I want to play table tennis, I have to drive 30 minutes."

He said the lack of tables in the United States is also having a negative effect on the interest of other Vietnamese. "Vietnamese youngsters who have been here since they were kids -- they don't play table tennis," he said.

"Some Vietnamese who grew up in Vietnam still play it, but, as the years go by, they lose interest."

However, Do said the introduction of table tennis in the Olympics is giving the sport a welcome boost. In fact, he hopes to be in Seoul next summer, but he did not qualify for a recent U.S. trial because he only received his citizenship a month ago.

Meanwhile, he says he's been running a table tennis camp in Silver Spring and working as an electronics technician. He speaks highly of such countries as Sweden and China who have the world's top table tennis teams. And he hopes the United States may edge near them soon.

"This game is getting better," he said. "I am very happy about it." Thumbs-up again.

It's a much bigger crowd that is watching tennis matches, about 100 or so people sitting on a lawn in front of several courts. Chatter is everywhere.

"The first thing is the competition," said Linh Luu, a tennis player from Vienna, Va. He differs from many competitors in that he doesn't speak Vietnamese, because he's been here since age 3. "But they all speak English, so communication is no problem."

The social aspect -- meeting other Vietnamese people -- is another reason for the event.

But socializing has been a little tougher for players on the men's volleyball teams, because they don't play beside or across the court from women. Bu Nguyen, a Falls Church resident, appeared to be making up for it before a volleyball match: He and his teammates hammed it up several times for the camera of a female friend.

Still, competition in volleyball is stiff, and Nguyen said the tournament schedule makes it tough to meet others except during the nighttime events.

Nguyen is part of a team that practiced volleyball only about five months.

"There are some really serious players here, and they've been playing together for a long time," he said with slight admiration.

"We are serious too, but we came together to have fun."