It was a showdown that more than lived up to the hype and exceeded expectations.
In a battle between two of the league’s hottest teams, the Formosa Dreamers outlasted the Saigon Heat in thrilling fashion, earning the 86-85 overtime victory, Saturday night at the CIS Arena in Ho Chi Minh City.
With the win, Formosa remains the only undefeated team with a league-best 4-0 record. And the loss of the Heat was their first in four games.
A crucial foul by Tevin Glass with 0.6 seconds left in regulation allowed Justin Young to head to the free throw line with the chance to win the game for Saigon who was down by a single point. Young, the local hero who delivered the game-winning basket for the Heat in their season opener, caught air in his first attempt but managed to knock down the second to tie the game. Malcom Miller’s heave at the buzzer missed and the game went into overtime.
In the extra session, the Heat took control early as they held a precarious four-point lead, 82-78, under four minutes remaining. But the resilient Dreamers made a strong push in the final two minutes with Chen tying the game once again at 82 apiece after a breakaway layup off a steal.
Like a pair of heavyweights refusing to go down, the two teams traded huge triples in a heated frenzy from Kenny Chien and Murphy Burnatowski. With the game going into another deadlock at 85-all, it was Young’s turn to commit a critical foul that sent Will Artino to the charity stripe with 6.2 seconds left. Artino split his chances, leaving the door open for another potential game-winner for the home team. However, Kyle Barone’s last second fadeaway shot over two defenders missed at the buzzer as the Dreamers held on.
Artino finished with an impressive line of 29 points on 81 percent shooting to along with 12 rebounds to lead Formosa. The Dreamers’ two other World Imports also finished with a double-double as Glass had 16 and 10, and Miller who had 14 and 11.
Burnatowski’s 39-point game was all for naught as the Heat suffered their first loss. The 6-foot-5 stretch forward waxed hot from deep, burying nine triples in the losing effort. The Heat were also dealt with a huge blow as Trevon Hughes left the game late in the second quarter due to an apparent hamstring injury. The team’s leading scorer did not return to the court and wound up with only seven points and four assists. In his stead, locals Young, Tanh Sang Dinh, Chris Dierker, and Corey Cilia provided solid minutes.
The Dreamers will fly to Taiwan for back-to-back games against Hong Kong Eastern and Mono Vampire next weekend, eager to keep their record unblemished.
As for the Heat, they head to China to face the Macau Black Bears on Wednesday.