FIVE TAKEAWAYS FROM THE GAME
Take care of basketball.
The home team was playing an excellent defense in front of their home crowd, forcing Westports Malaysia Dragons to commit a total of 17 turnovers in this crucial game. In fact, it was their man-to-man defense that gave the visitors a hard time to run effective plays all game long. Saigon Heat didn’t wasted the chance one bit, and scored 19 points from turnovers that basically gave themselves a comfort leading margin since second quarter.
Poor free-throw shooting.
Besides the turnovers, it was the Dragons poor free-throws shooting that allowed the victory to slipped away from them. As a collective unit, the Malaysian team only made 53% of their shots from the charity-stripe, which was more than enough to kept them away to even the score down the stretch. Whereby, Akeem Scott made his trip to the free-throw line counts, by making 11-out-13 shots that he was awarded by his usual fast-driven game.
When Maxie Esho was fouled out early of the fourth quarter, Heat had no choice by played smaller line-up by filling in Stefan Nguyen. However, the Viet-Swedish player did what matters to the team, despite not receiving big playing times this season. Unlike his previous seasons, he seems to be more calm and reliable this season, making the right decision and play on the court. Stefan contributed 7-points, 4-rebounds and an assist, which included two important rebounds during the last five minutes when Dragons were trying to made a comeback run.
Old but gold.
Bryan Davis has proved to be a reliable paint protector since his arrival to the team, and he finally showcased his polished offensive arsenal at CIS Arena. As a 32-years old veteran, he was having some trouble guarding the athletic Esho, but he did the same damage at the other end as well, using his experience at the paint. Although Davis fouled out early of the fourth quarter, but it was his efforts that kept his team alive the entire game, which he contributed 18 points and complimented with 17 boards, four assists and three blocks. With his usual steady defensive performance, Dragons will need him to contribute more on the offensive end in the coming games.
Two men combo.
It was the impressive combo of Maxie Esho and Michael Williams that established the winning tone for their team on the first half. The American big man was making buckets at his will, especially his crafty ball handling skills that allowed him to drive into basket without much worries. Besides, Williams found his rhythm when the opposing team assigned Jawhar Purdy to guard him on the second quarter, and he drilled in three quick shots from deep. This combo scored 37 points in total before they went to the half-time break.
Then it switched to Akeem Scott and Moses Morgan to take care of the team’s firing power on the second half. Morgan scored all of his 14 points on the last two quarters, but it was his versatile defense that made him valuable against their Malaysian counterpart’s primary scoring options (Chris Eversley & Joshua Munzon). On the other end, their vocal leader Scott was playing aggressively against the shaky Malaysian’s defense, using his explosive first step to blew by his defenders. His stellar offensive performance was also responsible on fouling out both Jawhar Purdy and Bryan Davis. The Jamaican Flash finished the game with 29-points, 8-boards, 5-dimes and 2 steals.