When it all came down to their most important game of the season, the BTN CLS Knights Indonesia leaned on their defense to carry them to the semifinals.
The Indonesian squad is through the semifinals after dispatching the Saigon Heat, 68-56, in Game 3, Sunday at GOR Kertajaya in Surabaya.
Maxie Esho muscled his way to 20 points, nine rebounds, and three steals while Douglas Herring provided 18 points, four assists, and two steals. The headstrong guard also showcased his outside shooting, knocking down three triples.
The Knights have leaned on their hot shooting and high-octane offense throughout the season, especially on their home floor. But in the grind-out nature of the winner-take-all Game 3, the Knights were able to show their defensive prowess.
The Knights buckled down and held the Heat to merely 30 percent field goal shooting while forcing 15 turnovers. They put on a defensive clinic, particularly in the second half to pull away. The Heat were only able to score a combined 27 points in the last two quarters.
Kyle Barone led a herculean effort for the Heat with 23 points and 15 rebounds. Trevon Hughes added 22 points but could not overcome a tough shooting night, going 7-for-24 from the field.
The Heat made a final attempt in the fourth quarter as Barone’s layup made it into a six-point game, 54-48, with five and a half minutes remaining. But the Knights showed tremendous resolve and went to their main weapons to carry them to victory. Esho responded with a stepback jumper to push the lead back to eight. Moments later, Herring connected on a 3-pointer to quash the Heat really. Even after Hughes drilled an outside shot to slice the deficit to nine points, Esho once again burned his former team with a clutch basket, hitting a gutsy 3-pointer with 2:44 left.
Despite a disappointing finish for the Heat, they can take solace in the fact that they finally won a playoff game this season.
As for the Knights, they move on and will face the Mono Vampire Basketball Club in the semifinals.