The Saigon Heat’s brilliance at their home floor will be tested by an eager BTN CLS Knights Indonesia this Sunday at the CIS Arena in Vietnam.
The 11-8 Heat are among the best at home, sporting a 7-2 record at the CIS Arena. On the other hand, the 10-10 Knights are hell-bent on improving their 2-8 road record in order to boost their playoff chances.
The Heat put an end to their four-game losing streak with a dramatic 74-72 win over the Formosa Dreamers courtesy of a late-game basket by Murphy Burnatowski off a steal. Trevon Hughes missed a jumper and just when things looked bleak for the Saigon squad, they were able to apply pressure defense that allowed Burnatowski to pick up the basketball and deliver the game-winner. The 6-foot-5 forward is averaging 19.6 points, 6.5 rebounds, 3.6 assists, and 1.4 steals per game.
Dang Khoa Tran also had an all-around game against Formosa. He logged in 33 minutes and was aggressive throughout the contest. He came into the game averaging just below eight points with less than four rebounds and barely three assists. If he can consistently provide a little bit of scoring and playmaking, he’ll play a vital role for the Heat moving forward.
The Knights meanwhile also put a stopgap to their skid with an impressive overtime victory against Mono Vampire. Maxie Esho powered his way to a season-high 37 points, including back-to-back dunks towards the end of the extra session to seal the win. After the game, the Knights shared that the close win against a team like the Mono Vampire was a confidence-booster for them. With only a handful of narrow victories under their belt, it was also a character-building moment for them that they can carry for the rest of the season.
The game between the Heat and the Knights will also feature two of the best perimeter defenders in the league. Indonesia’s Douglas Herring is number one in steals with 2.9 per game while Saigon’s Hughes is a close second with 2.7 steals. As much as these two are potent scorers and playmakers, they wreak havoc on the defensive end.
As the race for the ABL playoffs draws near, the Heat and the Knights will figure in an all-important matchup.