Mono Vampire surged ahead in the race for the final ABL Season 9 playoff spot with an emotionally charged 89-83 overtime victory against the Saigon Heat, Wednesday after at Stadium 29.
Things already looked bleak for the home squad early in the fourth quarter when their big man import Malcolm White fouled out of the game with still 6:45 remaining in the fourth quarter.
The problem was compounded by the fact that Saigon has a couple of very capable bigs in Kyle Barone and DeAngelo Hamilton. The Heat took full advantage of White’s absence as the road team built a nine-point lead, 75-66 with less than three minutes left in the contest.
Knowing that the game presented a good opportunity to be the favorite to claim the eighth spot, Mono Vampire refused to quit on the opportunity as Tyler Lamb powered the Thai squad’s offense while the Heat did not help themselves either by committing uncharacteristic turnovers.
Saigon’s lead was at eight points, 77-69, when Mono Vampire made their last stand. It started when Darongpan Apiromvilaichai drew the fifth and final foul of Trevon Hughes and converted on a free throw. After getting a stop on the other end, Lamb nailed a triple to trim their deficit down to four points, 77-73.
Hamilton then failed to find a recipient for an inbound pass even if after they called a timeout for that exact purpose. Mono Vampire could not take advantage of the opportunity as they missed three straight attempts from long distance but they also got lucky on the other end with Barone missing two free throws.
A split from the free throw line from Singletary kept them in the game with 22 seconds left even if they were still down, 77-74. Things turned out poorly for the Heat as Lamb forced a jump ball situation with Stefan Nguyen, with Mono Vampire winning possession. Worse, Saigon head coach Kyle Julius was called for a technical foul for entering the court.
Lamb converted on the technical free throw and Romeo Travis sent the game into overtime with a basket inside that ties the count at 77-all.
A new hero emerged for Mono Vampire in the extra period as Moses Morgan dropped seven of his 11 points in overtime to help his team get the win.
Travis led Mono Vampire with 21 points with nine rebounds and nine assists while Singletary flirted with a quadruple-double with 17 points, 11 rebounds, 11 assists, and seven steals. Lamb added 20 points to their cause while White only managed eight points and six rebounds in 19 foul-plagued minutes.
Hughes led the attack for Saigon with 20 points while adding seven rebounds, eight assists, and five steals. His presence was sorely missed by the Heat as they also lost Khoa Tran to a knee injury after the guard exploded with 15 points, seven rebounds, and seven assists in the contest.
Barone and Hamilton combined for 37 points and 23 rebounds but they also turned the ball over 14 times.
It was a tough road loss for the Heat who are still hoping to gain home-court advantage in the playoffs but they received a gift later in the day as the loss of the Westports Malaysia Dragons gave the Heat, Macau Black Bears, Hong Kong Eastern, and BTN CLS Knights Indoensia guaranteed spots in the quarterfinals.