The Saigon Heat snapped the three-game winning streak of the Westports Malaysia Dragons with a 78-65 victory, Sunday night at the CIS Stadium in Ho Chi Minh City. Although the losing margin wasn’t too big for the Dragons, it does not completely tell the story of just how dominant Saigon was for the first three quarters.
The Heat had Westports Malaysia on the ropes early as they started the game with a massive 20-0 run. With local guar Khoa Tran sinking nine early points, Saigon took control of the match early while the Dragons could not buy a bucket.
Malaysia finally got their first field goal with almost seven minutes gone by in the opening period with a basket from Chris Eversley. The Saigon blitz led to a 28-6 advantage after the first 10 minutes.
It did not get much better for the Dragons as their deficit ballooned to 34 points at the half.
The Heat took their foot off the gas pedal gradually as they only scored 14 and 10 points, respectively in the third and fourth quarters but the lead they built was more than enough to tide them over to the victory.
For the first time this season, a local led Saigon in scoring as Tran finished with 22 points alongside five rebounds and two assists. He put up a new career high in the ABL even if he missed the final four minutes of the first half. Trevon Hughes put up another solid performance with 20 points, 12 rebounds, seven assists, and four steals while the ever-reliable Kyla Barone got his usual double-double with 19 points and 14 rebounds.
Westports Malaysia finally got into their groove in the fourth quarter but it was too little too late as they started the period down by 25 big points. Eversley, Winston Shepard, and Loh Shee Fai did their best to carry the Dragons back into the game and they managed to get within eight points, 70-62, with 2:35 remaining in the game as they outscored the Heat 19-2 to open the final quarter.
However, Hughes and Murphy Burnatowski provided the finishing touches in the game for Saigon, as they strengthened their hold of the second spot with a 9-4 win-loss tally, behind the 8-2 San Miguel Alab Pilipinas.
Shepard and Eversley led the Dragons with 17 and 16 points, respectively, but they were not efficient from the field with a combined 14 of 42 shooting. Their third import Nnanna Egwu finished with 13 points and 19 rebounds. Loh had his fourth-straight double-digit scoring performance as he scored 10 points in the game.
The Heat will visit Mono Vampire in Thailand while Westports Malaysia guns for a bounce-back win against Hong Kong Eastern as both teams will be back in action this Wednesday.