The Saigon Heat will barge into the ABL playoffs as the fifth seed after defeating San Miguel Alab Pilipinas with a narrow 81-80 victory, Sunday at the CIS Arena in Ho Chi Minh City.
The Heat finish the regular season with a 14-12 record on the heels of back-to-back wins. They’ll face the number four seed BTN CLS Knights Indonesia in a best-of-three contest.
Trevon Hughes provided the Heat with an all-around 24 points, including five triples, six rebounds, eight assists, and four steals. Big men De Angelo Hamilton and Kyle Barone also had significant contributions with a combined 39 points and 25 rebounds.
The last regular season game of Saigon and the Philippines went down the wire and was decided on free throws in the closing moments.
Ray Parks knocked down a gutsy 3-pointer to give Alab a slim 80-79 lead with two minutes remaining. Barone then missed two shots at the charity stripe but redeemed himself by tying the game at 80 with a free throw in the last 25 seconds. He also came up with a huge defensive play, meeting Parks at the rim, preventing the two-time Local MVP to get a bucket on the other end.
A late foul by Alab’s Chris Sumalinog with 1.5 seconds on the clock then allowed Hughes to troop to the line. He split his free throws but that proved to be enough to get Heat the win.
Returning World Import Renaldo Balkman top-scored for Alab with 25 points to go along with eight rebounds in 33 minutes of action. Brandon Rosser was also back in the lineup and contributed 14 points and eight rebounds while Parks finished with 16 points. Towering center 7-foot-3 PJ Ramos did not play for Alab’s last game.
The defending champions conclude the regular season with an 18-8 record but have lost their last four games. They end up as the number two seed and will begin their title defense in the postseason against seventh-seed Hong Kong Eastern.