The undermanned Saigon Heat scored an important 93-88 victory over the CLS Knights Indonesia, Sunday night at the GOR CLS Kertajaya.
Playing without their prolific Heritage Import Moses Morgan who’s out with a leg injury, there was even more pressure on their starting unit to perform as Saigon is one of the worst teams in the league in terms of producing bench points.
Maxie Esho rose to the challenge presented to their squad as he had another outstanding ball game with 27 points and 11 rebounds. Akeem Scott also had a solid all around performance with 26 points, 5 rebounds, 7 assists, and 4 steals as he was named the AirAsia Player of the Game.
Knowing full well that CLS could be a dangerous team to deal with when they have a good start, the Heat pounced on the Knights early in the game as they took a 23-9 advantage after the first 10 minutes of action.
Saigon kept the Knights at bay for much of the game but the home team, feeling that their playoff hopes are slowly dwindling, went on one big run in the final quarter.
Down by 16 points with 4:20 left in the game, Shane Edwards started a rally for CLS as they went on a 9-0 run to cut their deficit to 7 points, 86-79. After a basket from Scott, Sandy Kurniawan responded with a triple to inch them to within 6 with still 1:19 left in the contest.
However, Esho would provide Saigon the finishing touches it needed to wrap the game up as he scored 5 points in the final 50 seconds to guarantee the victory.
Edwards led the attack for the Knights with 33 points while Brian Williams added a double-double with 18 points and 12 rebounds. Mario Wuysang reached a milestone in the game as he joins an elite list of players who have scored 1,000 points in the ABL after dropping 20 markers alongside 6 rebounds and 8 assists in the game but the ageless Indonesia guard would have traded it all for a victory.
The problem for CLS was that they could not take advantage of Morgan’s absence as their own Heritage Imports struggled in the contest with Keith Jensen only scoring 4 points and Freddie Lish performing even worse after failing to score in 18 minutes of action.
Saigon banked on David Arnold and Michael Williams to fill the void that Morgan left behind as they combined for 32 points, 8 rebounds, and 8 assists.