FIVE TAKEAWAYS FROM THE GAME
A battle of short rotations.
Wednesday night’s contest in China was a battle between the two teams with the heaviest average minutes per game as far as main starters are concerned, as both the Saigon Heat and Chongson Kung Fu typically limiting significant minutes to only six players per game. The bench made a difference for Kung Fu during this match, as they were able to add 15 points as opposed to none from the side of the Heat. A glaring statline for Saigon wasn’t necessarily the egg that the bench put up, but it was that no shot attempts were even taken by any players that came directly off the pine.
It was closer than what the scoreline reflects.
Despite a 15-point margin of victory by the time the final buzzer blew, the game was kept close for the majority of the time which saw the two teams trading scoring runs. The visitors struck early with Maxie Esho taking advantage on the offensive end against Justin Howard, leading the way with 16 first half points. The Heat led by as many as nine early into the second quarter, but scoring runs on the part of both teams kept things close until the midway point in the third period when the Kung Fu began their breakaway.
Kung Fu’s locals swinging game factor.
As a team that is heavily dependent on import minutes, you would think it might have been the start of the end for the home squad when reliable heritage import Caelan Tiongson sat out midway through the third quarter with his fourth foul and the Heat leading by one. In came He Chongren, who, without scoring many points, showed a calm resilience and hust on defense without the pressure of being in any sort of foul trouble. This change also saw local, ‘Camel’ Luo Yongxuan, score two back-to-back threes, giving his team the lead for good and sparking a run which extended the Kung Fu’s lead to ten by the end of the third period.
Akeem Scott heats up too late.
Faced with the tight defense of Mikh McKinney all night long, Scott only had 10 points going into the final quarter as he struggled to shake off the Kung Fu heritage import. The Heat looked to Scott to try and save the game for them in the deciding period, as he began his usual aggressive rim attacks while the Kung Fu defense began to tire. The Heat world import would score 12 points in the period, including two and-1 plays, but it would not be enough as the rest of the team was only able to contribute seven points off three made field goals.
Chongson guards take turns lighting it up.
Chongson’s backcourt duo of Anthony Tucker and Mikh McKinney had contrasting halves of the game in an impressive overall night while their frontcourt partners, Justin Howard and Caelan Tiongson, were occupied, as the starting center struggled to contain Maxie Esho early on, and the Fil-Am in foul trouble. McKinney shot a perfect 7-of-7 in the first half which included a buzzer-beater going into the half. He would finish with 23 points. Anthony Tucker shook off a cold shooting start, scoring 17 of his 20 points in the second half, including three key long-balls in the deciding quarter that put the game out of the Heat’s reach. He would also finish the night with 11 rebounds and 12 assists, completing his third triple-double of the season, and kept a clean slate with no turnovers.