The BTN CLS Knights Indonesia continued to prove they are a force to be reckoned with at home by beating the Saigon Heat, 68-56, to take game 3 and advance to the ASEAN Basketball League (ABL) semifinals.
Saigon had a much better start in this game compared to Game 1, down by only three point at the half even though CLS held a 10-point lead early in the second quarter. But the turnovers (15 in the game) and inefficiency from beyond the arc (22 missed three’s) hurt the Vietnamese squad in the final two quarters.
Eventually, the Heat failed to get past the 60-point mark once more, and fell short of winning the first ever playoff series in franchise history.
Thr Knights did not play as well as they did in the first meeting of the series, scoring far below their average, being outrebounded 39 to 47, while also struggling from the outside. But the critical factors were the effectiveness inside the paint to make shots and draw contacts, which Saigon were missing.
Player of the game Maxie Esho recorded team-high 20 points and three steals, to go along with nine boards. Darryl Watkins had a monster game defensively with 10 rebounds and season-high five blocks while Douglas Herring and Wong Wei Long added 18 and 10 points, respectively.
On the other side, Kyle Barone contributed a double-double of 23 and 15, while Trevon Hughes, despite putting up 22 points and four steals, had an off night, shooting 7-for-24. No other Heat player scored more than five points.
The Saigon Heat will finish the season with a lot of positives to look into, including a first-ever winning record in the ABL regular season and the first ever postseason victory last Wednesday night.
Meanwhile, the CLS Knights will retain home court advantage as they move on to face the Mono Vampire Basketball Club from Thailand in the semis.
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