The Saigon Heat start their 2018 campaign on a good note as they defeated the Formosa Dreamers, 99-85, Saturday afternoon at the Changhua Stadium. It was sweet payback for the Heat who were dealt an 80-75 setback at home when the two teams first met back on December 9.
In their second meeting, Saigon made sure that the Dreamers had no shot at stealing the game in the final period as they led from buzzer to buzzer to record their second victory of the season.
The Heat featured two new players on their roster and both gave a good account of themselves in their ABL debut. Maxie Esho was all over the floor for the Heat as he scattered 27 points, grabbed 14 rebounds, and registered 3 blocks in the contest. Esho not only rose high for dunks throughout the game but also displayed his range going 3/6 from downtown.
As Saigon opened up a spot for a Heritage import to join them after David Arnold was reclassified as a local, they signed up Michael Williams who did not disappoint with 19 points, 6 rebounds, and 4 assists in his first game.
The visiting Heat knew that a strong start would be beneficial for them as Formosa was a tough team to deal with when they gain confidence. Akeem Scott opened the scoring with a triple and it did not take them long to build their first double-digit lead at 12-2 after a triple from Esho. Scott punctuated the opening quarter with a bucket to give Saigon a 28-19 lead after the first 10 minutes.
Formosa fought back gamely in the second period where they matched the hot shooting of Saigon. Anchored by the tireless Lenny Daniel and the sweet-shooting Wu Sung Wei, the Dreamers cut their deficit down to 6, 32-26. Saigon responded with an 11-2 run at the tail end of the second to establish a 54 to 43 lead at the half.
After a relatively quiet first half in his first game with Formosa, Reggie Okosa woke up in the third quarter but his individual effort was not enough to overcome the balanced attack of the Heat as they extended their lead to 17 points at the end of the third before cruising towards a victory.
Moses Morgan was on fire in the contest as he matched Esho’s output with 27 points while adding 12 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals, and 2 blocks. Scott chipped in 16 points, 6 rebounds, and 8 assists in the game while Arnold finished with 8 points and 4 assists.
Wu led Formosa in scoring with a career-high 21 points on 7 of 9 shooting from the field with 4 of them being triples. Daniel had 17 points and 9 rebounds while the former Tanduay Alab Pilipinas import, Okosa, had 13 points and 10 rebounds in his first game with his new team.