Heavy rain on the evening of January 14 couldn’t dampen the mood at CIS Arena (HCMC) – where nearly 2,000 die-hard basketball fans watched the rematch between their home team Saigon Heat versus the Taiwanese team, the Kaohsiung Truth. This was a chance for Vietnam’s team to avenge the narrow defeat against the Truth last week, as well as to win their first game of the season.
The starting lineup remained unchanged for both teams. The starting five for the home team included Nguyen Tuan Tu (1), Viet Arnold (33), Joshua Munzon (8), Lenny Daniel (2) and Haminn Quaintance (11), the replacement for Christien Charles, who is still suffering from injury. The Kaohsiung Truth started their strongest players, Hao Chun Chang (13), Wesley Hsu (32), Achie Inigo (17), Derek Hall (33) and Oliver Cedric (23).
In the first quarter, Lenny Daniel showed excellent physical strength by scoring the first 6 points for the Heat, but the Truth’s 7-foot tall Center – Derek Hall quickly evened the score. Two fast break dunks from the Heat’s Joshua Munzon couldn’t prevent the Taiwanese team from conceding the lead. The first quarter ended with the Kaohsiung Truth leading 26-25.
In the second quarter, Truth players continued to feed the ball into the low post, where their 7-foot tall center, Derek Hall used his height to his advantage to score. However, since Lenny Daniel and Haminn Quaintance were really effective in protecting the paint, the Truth started taking more shots from mid-range and outside the arc, but only shots from world import, Derek Hall, seemed effective. On the contrary, Heat players seemed to be in the zone, especially Joshua Munzon. Starting with an assist to Thanh Nhan for an easy lay-up, the ASEAN import of the Heat continued to wow the crowd on the next play by stealing the pass and cruising down the court by himself for an easy dunk at the other end, helping the Heat expand their lead into double-digits. The second quarter ended with the Saigon Heat leading 53-43.
To begin the third quarter, the Saigon Heat started slowly, allowing the opposing team to go on a 2–10 run in only three minutes and 13 seconds, bringing the lead back down to two points. Heat head coach Anthony Garbelotto had to call a timeout to break the opponent’s momentum. After the timeout, Munzon caught on fire. He knocked down 14 points in the quarter (with two back to back 3-point makes at the end) to help the Heat extend the lead. The score was 77 – 62.
For the fourth quarter, the Kaohsiung Truth switched to a full-court, man to man defense, but that couldn’t help them get back in the game. The match was interrupted for a few minutes after Lenny Daniel had a Shaq moment, where he broke the rim with a hard alley-oop dunk, courtesy of teammate, David Arnold. Former Joton player, Nguyen Van Hung scored the last point from the free throw line to solidify the 99-85 victory for the Saigon Heat.
The MVP of the match was Joshua Munzon. The Heat rookie had a career-high of 34 points (12/19 FGM-FGA), six steals, three assists, and three rebounds. Lenny Daniel and Viet Arnold also added 28 and 19 points, respectively.
The Vietnamese players also had some quality minutes on the court. Nguyen Thanh Nhan scored four points (2/2 FGM-FGA) and Nguyen Van Hung protected the rim effectively against much bigger opponents.
After this match, the Kaohsiung Truth will have their next match versus Westports Malaysia Dragons on January 25. The Saigon Heat will be back on the road for the next three matches, facing off against Westports Malaysia Dragons on January 20, Alab Pilipinas on January 27, and the Kaohsiung Truth, yet again, on February 1.