The Saigon Heat roared back following a series-opening loss by taking an 84-74 victory over the Can Tho Catfish in Game 2 of the 2019 Vietnam Basketball Association (VBA) Finals.

Coming into Game 2 with momentum on their side, the defending champions had their eyes set on taking a commanding 2-0 series lead after winning the first game by a margin of three points. Conversely, the Saigon Heat were eager to prevent themselves from falling into a hole which they may be unable to dig out of.

With the stakes set, both teams came out battling toe-to-toe, with neither side able to take complete control of the game’s opening period, ending in a dead-even draw at 21 points apiece.

The stalemate continued into the second quarter, and it wasn’t until the second half where one of the squads was able to build a sizable advantage. With their star import Tavarion Nix on the bench due to foul trouble, the Saigon Heat were able to take charge with eight straight points to start the third period.

The home-side Catfish fought back in the fourth, narrowing its deficit to within one point with four minutes remaining, but the Heat duo of Richard Nguyen and Tim Waale proved to be too much. Down the final stretch, the two came through with clutch baskets to help seal the game for the visitors with an 84-74 victory.

In the loss, the Catfish were led by Sang Dinh, who finished with 30 points and five rebounds, while import DeAngelo Hamilton chipped in a double-double of 17 points and 17 boards. Despite playing the full 40 minutes, league MVP candidate Tam Dinh had an off night as he ended the game with just seven points on 2-of-10 shooting from the field.

Leading the way for the Heat was Richard Nguyen, who continued to have the hot hand after dropping a career-high of 31 points in Game 1. He finished with team-highs of 24 points and 14 rebounds, while also adding six assists. In addition, Tim Waale added his own career-high of 17 points, shooting 8-of-10 from the field.

Evened at a game apiece, the Saigon Heat now hold the home court advantage with the series shifting to CIS Arena for games three and four. Game 3 of the 2019 VBA Finals continues Friday, September 13 in Saigon.

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