Game Preview: Hong Kong Eastern Long Lions vs Saigon Heat

With the top seed in the 2016-17 ASEAN Basketball League (ABL) season already locked up, the Hong Kong Eastern Long Lions will return to ASEAN Basketball League (ABL) action on Wednesday, March 15 not having to carry pressure on their backs.

Hong Kong recently clinched the number 1 spot in the league standings and home-court advantage throughout the post-season after sweeping Alab Pilipinas in their home-and-away series last weekend in dominant fashion.

The Long Lions first conquered Alab at home last March 10, 100-87 before repeating on the Philippine side’s home turf on March 12 with an even more lopsided win, 83-61.

The pair of victories pushed Hong Kong’s winning streak up to 10 games, and their overall record to 15-2, putting the top seed out of reach for any other team.

Ace scorers Marcus Elliott and Tyler Lamb delivered for Hong Kong in the back-to-back victories. Elliott averaged 20.5 PPG 3 RPG, and 7.5 APG while Lamb normed 22 PPG, making five triples in each of the two contests.

Josh Boone imposed his will underneath particularly in last Sunday’s match, finishing with a double-double of 23 points and 19 rebounds, while adding 4 blocks.

“We’ve been focused the last nine, 10 games. Very focused. A lot of teams take a break this time of the year. For us to start playing better and together, it’s big,” Lamb said.

Meanwhile, Hong Kong’s foe in their next match, the Saigon Heat, know the importance of winning the upcoming battle.

At 6-10, the Heat maintain a 1.5-game lead over the fifth-ranked Kaohsiung Truth (5-12). There is only one playoff ticket remaining, and the Vietnamese side would like to put one foot in the playoff door already with a win.

It will definitely not be an easy challenge for the Heat. They aren’t only coming off an embarrassing loss to the Westports Malaysia Dragons last March 11, but the Heat also haven’t yet beaten the Long Lions in the regular season.

Heat head coach Tony Garbelotto expressed disappointment after his squad’s setback to the Dragons, citing that they never really got into rhythm and didn’t give the effort expected from them.

“There’s no excuse at all. It was an embarrassment. We had some bad performances this year, but this one, this one is terrible,” he said.

But if there is one team who have shown the ability to bounce back from bad losses and take down higher-seeded groups, it’s also the Heat.

They scored two wins over Alab and upset the Singapore Slingers more recently, so Hong Kong still better come to the game prepared. The Heat have not lost back-to-back games as well since the return of Moses Morgan.

Will the Long Lions continue rolling in the league, or will the Heat put an end to Hong Kong’s streak with another upset?

Game time is set for 8:00PM at the Southorn Stadium in Wan Chai.