The Saigon Heat has had the defending champions’ number all-season long.
On Sunday, the Heat continued their mastery over the Hong Kong Eastern Basketball Team, winning in overtime, 118-115, at the CIS Arena in Vietnam.
Akeem Scott gave a herculean effort of 38 points on 14-for-21 shooting, while also adding 8 rebounds, 5 assists, and 6 steals. Maxie Esho had 27 points and 7 rebounds while Michael Williams scored 23 points.
Just like their first meeting, the game was an instant classic as both teams went back-and-forth in the fourth quarter and in overtime.
Down by three points, 101-98, towards the end of regulation, Scott scored on two straight possessions to put the Heat back on top with 12.4 seconds remaining. But Eastern refused to go down without a fight as Tyler Lamb was able to convert on his shot, giving the lead back to visiting side.
On the ensuing play, Quang Trung was fouled. The young Vietnamese guard trooped to the line in the hopes of giving his team the victory. He only hit one of the two free throws however, forcing the game into five additional minutes.
Heading into the extra session, the Heat had to dug deep with the loss of Moses Morgan and Maxie Esho due to fouls. Fortunately, David Arnold was able to pick up the slack. The Heritage Import-turned-local was able to knock down a booming triple as his first basket of the game to give the Heat a 111-105 advantage.
Eastern would show their championship pedigree as Marcus Elliott converted on tough baskets to keep his team in the game. Unfortunately, the reigning World MVP would falter in the end. Staring at a three-point deficit with 20 seconds remaining, Elliott missed a lay-up at point blank range. Horace Nguyen sealed the game with a pair of free throws.
Elliott finished the game with 29 points and 10 rebounds. Christian Stanhardinger poured in a huge double-double of 31 points and 18 rebounds but his Achilles heel did not help his team’s effort as he was only 11-for-20 from the charity stripe.
The defending champions suffer their second defeat of the season, both times at the hands of the Heat. They are still ahead of the standings with a 9-2 record. The Saigon Heat meanwhile snap their three-game losing skid and improve to a 5-5 slate.