The Saigon Heat made a big move heading into the final stretch of the 2019 ABL regular season as they decided to stick with substitute import DeAngelo Hamilton, parting with Murphy Burnatowski. The move paid off for them as they scored an easy 102-70 victory against the Wolf Warriors at home.
Kyle Barone made his way back into the active lineup after dealing with an injury and me more than made up for lost time as he dropped 30 points and 16 rebounds on the Wolf Warriors. He formed a fearsome big duo with Hamilton who chipped in 24 points on an impressive 11 of 14 shooting from the field. Trevon Hughes also had good numbers for the Heat as he finished with 17 points, five rebounds, and seven assists without committing a single turnover.
Saigon knew that parting with Burnatowski would be a risk as he has been their main gunner from the outside. However, at least against the Wolf Warriors, a local stepped up and showed his willingness to fill the void.
Corey Cilia had one of his best performances in his young ABL career as he scored 13 points, going 4 of 6 from the three-point range.
The Wolf Warriors had a tough time from the get-go as they were without Mike Bell, their third best scorer with 16 points per game. This put so much pressure on Cory Bradford, Shawntez Patterson, and Cai Chen to lead the fight for their squad.
Cai led the scoring with 18 points and 11 rebounds while the two imports had a combined 26 points but only seven rebounds.
As a result, the Wolf Warriors were brutalized on the boards by the Heat who won the rebounding battle 45 to 23. Saigon also dominated inside scoring 62 to 28.
The game started well for the visiting Wolf Warriors as they fought fire with fire against the Heat, taking a 29-25 lead after the first 10 minutes. However, coach Kyle Julius implored his team to play better defensively, which they did, limiting the Wold Warriors to 16, 18, and a measly seven points in the second, third, and fourth periods.
The silver lining for the Wolf Warriors in the game was the emergence of Sun He Feng who had 10 points in the game and Zhong Xianchao who finished with nine off of spectacular drives and high-flying finishes.
The loss officially eliminated the Wolf Warriors from playoff contention as they will not be able to reach seven wins, which is that Mono Vampire has right now at the eighth spot.
Coupled with Macau’s twin losses against the Formosa Dreamers, Saigon was able to reclaim the fourth spot with their 12-9 win-loss tally.