FIVE TAKEAWAYS FROM THE GAME
Two elite point guards.
Marcus Elliot is often thought of as the measuring stick when it comes to point guards in the ABL, but in his matchup with the elite Eastern guard on Sunday night at CIS, Akeem Scott just about solidified his place in joining that same conversation. By now, we’re all aware of the speed at which Scott plays at, but he also showed that he has a pair of bouncy springs to go along with his slick tires. Both guards dazzled the crowd with their penetrating drives, but Scott got the better of Elliot when it came to hang-time finishes in heavy traffic. A lot of credit should be given to Maxie Esho’s rim protection, as his two blocks both came against Elliot, but the reigning world import MVP also missed layups which he is more than capable of making. Hong Kong’s world import finished with a solid line of 29 points, 10 rebounds, four assists, and one steal, but he was one-upped by Scott’s 38 points, eight rebounds, five assists, and six steals.
Eastern’s failure to take advantage of their size in overtime.
With the Heat’s two tallest players, the 6’9″ Maxie Esho and 6’6″ Moses Morgan, both fouled out with a little more than two minutes left to play in regulation, the visitors were presented with a golden opportunity for Christian Standhardinger to go to work in the paint. The Heat were forced to go small for the remainder of the game, which included an extra five minute overtime session. Despite another efficient and dominating 31-point and 18-rebound on 10-of-15 shooting from the field performance by the Fil-German ASEAN import, he was only able to muster together three points in the extended period, all of which came from the charity stripe.
The return of Michael Williams.
Since his 24-point outing four games ago against Chongson Kung Fu, also the last time the Heat won a game, Michael Williams had been in a three game shooting slump with scoring outputs of one point against the Malaysia Dragons, five points against Mono Vampire, and nine points against Alab Pilipinas. Coincidentally, the last time these two teams faced off against each other, Williams exploded for 39 points, and though his most recent scoring barrage didn’t quite reach that, the Heat needed every bit of his 23 points to squeeze by the league’s top team once again. He also finished with nine rebounds, five assists, and three steals.
A Tet holiday gift.
Eastern finished the game shooting 15 more free throws than the Heat, which translated into 11 more makes than the home team from the charity stripe, even with the teams equalizing at 72 percent overall in freebies. They also grabbed 10 more rebounds (45-35) despite Ryan Moss having to spectate for a long stretch sitting on four fouls. However, the visitors coughed up the ball a staggering 27 times as opposed to Saigon’s 14. The Heat weren’t shy in taking full advantage of Eastern’s sloppy play, as they turned that favorable margin into 35 points while their opposition only had 11.
The last time these two teams met, Eastern was riding a 7-game winning streak and holding onto a perfect undefeated season. The Saigon Heat went into their house and came out victorious in overtime. With revenge on their minds coming into Sunday night’s game, fans were treated with another gritty and hard-fought game that also saw extra basketball being played, as the Heat came out on top once again after all the dust settled. Having only two losses on the season so far, both coming at the hands of the Vietnam-based team, it seems that this Heat team is the thorn in the side of Eastern that they just can’t seem to get out. Even with the up-and-down season that Saigon is experiencing so far, I don’t think I’m alone when I say that it would sure be fun to see these teams go head-to-head in a much more pressure-filled playoff series. Raise your hands if you agree.