The second game of a double-header opening day for the 2018 Vietnam Basketball Association (VBA) season saw two inner-city rivals matched up against one another with the Saigon Heat hosting the Ho Chi Minh City Wings at CIS Arena. Though the two teams had already met previously in the preseason, with the Heat taking charge in a lopsided 94-70 victory, more was at stake in Saturday night’s clash.
Following the opening tip that marked an official start to the regular season for both teams, the game went back-and-forth early on with the home team Heat holding onto a six point lead going into the second quarter, led by Khoa Tran. Saigon would continue to build on their opening quarter lead, closing the opening half with a nine point lead at 39-31.
Coming out of the half, the Wings began to see the game start to slip out their hands as the hot-shooting Heat stretched their lead to 17 points, however, the visitors were able to muster together a 17-2 run, going into the deciding quarter down just 58-56 after a buzzer-beating three-point shot by Henry Nguyen to end the third period.
The pivotal fourth quarter was another back-and-forth affair for the first eight minutes of play before the Heat were finally able to take control, finishing the game on a 14-5 run that was capped off by a Du Minh An three-point dagger that sealed an 86-77 victory for the home side.
The Saigon Heat were led by heritage import Khoa Tran, who finished with 28 points, seven rebounds, two assists, and three steals while world import Tavarion Nix had an impressive Heat debut, tallying 21 points, nine rebounds, three blocks, and a steal.
On the other side, the Wings were paced by their own world import, Quinton Doggett, who was able to notch a double-double with 30 points and 12 rebounds with heritage import Henry Nguyen also putting in a solid contribution, going a perfect 4-of-4 from beyond the arc to spark his team’s third quarter run and finished with 20 points, four assists, three boards, and two steals.
The Wings will have another shot at revenge and tie the season series when they host the Heat at Ho Xuan Huong Stadium on July 12th. Both teams are slated for their second games of the season on July 16th with the Saigon Heat traveling to the capital in a matchup with the Hanoi Buffaloes, and the Ho Chi Minh City Wings welcoming the Danang Dragons in their home-opener.