Amidst playing inside the raucous CIS Arena in Vietnam while sporting a poor track record on the road, the BTN CLS Knights Indonesia powered through a thrilling 81-79 win against the Saigon Heat.
The Knights improve to 11-10 for sixth place in the standings with the important away victory. It was only their third win outside of Indonesia and they did it behind Maxie Esho’s brilliant performance of 28 points, including three triples, and nine rebounds. The former Heat star played superb against his old team, knocking timely baskets and clutch free throws in the endgame.
With the game still hanging in the balance under two minutes remaining, Esho provided a cushion for the Knights using a tough baseline layup to give his team a seven-point lead, 78-71. After a free throw from De Angelo Hamilton and a breakaway bucket from Chris Dierker, the Heat sliced the deficit to just four points with 48 seconds left. Wong Wei Long lost the ball on the Knights’ next possession, but Esho recovered with a steal. The do-it-all forward then hit two crucial shots at the charity stripe with 16 seconds on the clock to extend the lead to six, 80-74. Dierker countered with a layup on the other end but Wong essentially iced the game with his free throw with eight seconds left.
Led by Esho, Indonesia’s starting five played outstanding basketball. Darryl Watkins collected a double-double of 18 points and 15 rebounds, while also getting four steals. Douglas Herring had an all-around game of 12 points, five boards, and four dimes. Locals Brandon Jawato and Wong found their stroke and combined for 21 points.
For the Heat, Hamilton was a force in the paint as he put up 22 points and seven rebounds in a losing effort. Murphy Burnatowski fired 17 points and Trevon Hughes added 18.
The Knights, who previously played poor offense on the road, was able to hit 51 percent of their shots at the CIS Arena. They also drilled 10 3-pointers and outrebounded the Heat, 40-37.
The Knights will be back on their home floor this Wednesday against the Singapore Slingers. The 11-9 Heat will look to bounce back against the Wolf Warriors next Sunday.