The Macau Black Bears banked on a late rally to defend homecourt and defeat the Saigon Heat 97-95 in ASEAN Basketball League action.
Inside the Nanhai Gymnasium, the Black Bears had to rally back from a nine point deficit at the start of the fourth quarter. A triple by Murphy Burnatowski to start the period gave the Heat the 80-71 advantage, however that was quickly countered by a three from Anthony Tucker as well.
Both teams would exchange field goals, however the Black Bears would have the better finishing kick. A layup from Ryan Watkins at the 6:35 mark kicked off a 11-2 run that gave Macau the lead, 92-90 with 2:26 remaining in the game. Burnatowski would make two straight baskets to tie the game at 92-all with 1:50 remaining, but a triple from Nathan Yu and a shot in the paint from Watkins restored the lead to the Black Bears, as they held on to the victory.
Macau was led by a pair of terrific performances from Tucker and McKinney. The reigning World MVP Tucker had a double-double of 26 points and 14 assists, while McKinney had a team-high 27 points, 4 rebounds and 3 assists.
The Heat played their first game of the season without World Import Trevon Hughes, who went down with a leg injury in the second quarter of the loss to the Formosa Dreamers. Murphy Burnatowski tallied 29 points, 12 rebounds and 9 assists to pace the Heat. Kyle Barone dropped 25 points and 9 rebounds.
The Heat got solid performances from their locals in Tanh Sang Dinh and Chris Dierker, who had 18 and 15 points respectively. But with Young on the sidelines, the team’s rotation had to adjust. As a result the Heat got zero bench points, and only one player actually came off the pine to relieve the starters in Chris Cilia. Fatigue could have been a reason for the loss, as no starter played less than 35 minutes in the game.
The Black Bears climbed to 5 wins and 2 losses in 3rd place in the standings, while the Heat lost its second straight game to fall to 3-2 in fourth place. The Black Bears will now embark on a long break before their next game, which is scheduled for January 9, 2019 against the Formosa Dreamers.
The Heat will look to bounce back and arrest their skid against the Westports Malaysia Dragons on December 9 at the CIS Arena.