The Saigon Heat remain one of the toughest teams to beat on their home floor as they overwhelmed the visiting Hong Kong Eastern, 99-91, Sunday inside a raucous crowd at the CIS Arena in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.
Behind a fiery performance from Trevon Hughes, the Heat earned their second straight win to rise to an 8-4 record. They’ve been formidable at home, collecting six wins in front of their adoring fans.
Hughes led the way with 29 points, eight rebounds, three assists, and two steals. Kyle Barone also had a huge game as he tallied 26 points and 12 rebounds. The Heat big man also had three blocks in a strong defensive showing.
The Heat were able to turn the game into their favor in the second half. Hong Kong was up by a single point, 50-49, at the end of halftime, but the home team unloaded 32 points in the third period alone to take an 81-70 lead heading into the last quarter.
Eastern, who were coming off a disappointing loss at the hands of San Miguel Alab Pilipinas in their previous game, refused to go down without a fight. A dunk by Samuel Deguara cut the deficit to five points, 91-86, under four minutes left in the contest. However, Hughes responded with a huge triple off an offensive rebound from Chris Dierker to push the lead back to eight, 94-86. Dierker, who remains to be a consistent scoring threat for the Heat, then helped to extend the advantage to double-digits with another jumper. The local standout finished with 10 points, nine rebounds, and three steals.
Elliott countered with five straight points in Hong Kong’s final comeback attempt. His pair of free throws made it 96-91, with a minute left in the contest, but they were, unfortunately, the last points scored by Eastern. Even as Hughes missed two shots at the charity stripe, Hong Kong could not capitalize as Lee Ki and O’Darrien Bassett failed to convert on the other end. Hughes capped off his amazing night with another triple as time expired.
Elliott filled the stat sheet with 28 points, eight rebounds, and eight assists but they were not enough to get the win for Hong Kong. Deguara finished with a perfect 7-for-7 shooting from the floor en route to an 18-point output to go along with 18 rebounds. Bassett chipped in with 17 points, six rebounds, and five dimes.
The Heat torched Eastern with 13 triples and relied on a 31-19 edge in second chance points. Eastern won the rebounding battle, 45-42, and had 20 bench points, but committed 14 turnovers. And the Heat’s decisive third quarter ultimately changed the complexion of the game.
The Heat look to defend home court once again as they face the Westports Malaysia Dragons on January 20 while Eastern will fly to Macau on January 16 in a matchup against the Black Bears.