The Saigon Heat inch closer to claiming the last spot in the ABL playoffs after they crushed the Westports Malaysia Dragons, 102-88, on Saturday at the CIS Arena in Ho Chi Minh City.
The Heat got their second win in a row and moved up to 9 wins and 8 losses for the seasons. They remain in sixth place in the standings and more importantly, are now up 2-1 in their season series against the Dragons. The two teams will face again on March 18.
Akeem Scott scored 23 of his game-high 29 points in the second half as the Heat were able to pull away towards the end. Scott’s effort on the offensive end were needed in the pivotal fourth quarter when Maxie Esho fouled out of the game.
A tip-in by David Arnold established a 12-point lead for the Heat with six and a half minutes remaining. Everything was going right for the home team but the league’s leading scorer Chris Eversley showed that he still had a lot of fight in him.
The scoring big man converted an and-one play that not only cut the Dragons’ deficit by single-digits, but also managed to draw the fifth and final foul from Esho. That proved critical as Esho already had 23 points and 12 rebounds to his name before fouling out. Fortunately for the Heat, Scott, along with Mikey Williams kept their foot on the gas pedal to ensure the Heat victory.
Joshua Munzon finished with 25 points and 8 rebounds for Malaysia who had their two-game winning streak snapped. Eversley ended up with 23 points on a woeful 8-for-23 shooting and 9 rebounds. The Dragons now have a 5-11 record, making things harder for them to reach the playoffs.
With a little over two weeks left in the regular season, every win becomes extremely important especially for the Dragons and the Heat who are desperately trying to make into the playoffs. The Heat can clinch the last playoff berth by beating the San Miguel Alab Pilipinas next Wednesday, March 14.