After cementing their slot in the upcoming ABL Playoffs, the Saigon Heat look to aim higher, as they face the Westports Malaysia Dragons. The two squads collide at the CIS Arena in Ho Chi Minh City, 8PM local time.
With the loss of the Dragons to the CLS Knights this week, the Heat wrapped up the final slot in the Playoffs. However with a 9-9 record, they still have a chance to finish as high as 5th place, if the Singapore Slingers drop their remaining games.
It was a shootout in Davao City, as the Heat were unable to keep up with the prolific shooting of San Miguel Alab Pilipinas, falling 126-100 in a high scoring shootout. Tanduay Alab Pilipinas was absolutely unconscious from long distance, nailing 18 triples on 64% shooting. The Heat also need to do a better job of moving the ball around, as they only finished with 10 assists.
For the Dragons, it’s all about pride at this point. Two years removed from winning the ABL title, Malaysia is out of the Playoffs once again. Now they’re looking to play the role of spoiler against the Heat.
Heat big man Maxie Esho was able to pick up the scoring cudgels for the Heat, tallying 24 points. However the problem was he was unable to stop his counterparts on the other end. Esho was also limited in the rebounding area, only grabbing five rebounds which are for from his usual numbers.
Standing opposite the Heat are the Dragons, as they look to deal with the disappointment of another failed Playoff run. The Dragons didn’t look like a team that was playing for their Playoff lives against the Knights, as a slow start led to a huge first quarter deficit, finishing the quarter down 24-8. From then on, the result was never in question, leading to the Knights cruising to a 87-68 win. The biggest culprit for the Dragons was their frigid shooting, as they only shot 30% from the field, making only 2/20 from beyond the arc.
In the disappointing loss to the Knights that ended the Dragons’ Playoff hopes, Joshua Munzon did all he could to keep his team alive, as he tallied 19 points, 7 rebounds and 2 steals . But it wasn’t enough, and for the second straight season, Munzon will end the ABL season without making it to the Playoffs.
The last time these two squads met, the Heat dealt the Dragons a huge blow to their Playoff hopes with the 102-88 win in their last matchup. The win by Saigon allowed them to control their own fate, while forcing Malaysia to have to play almost perfect basketball the rest of the way. That wasn’t the case, and now Malaysia is playing simply to prevent Saigon from climbing the standings. Can they play spoiler in the CIS Arena?