VietNamNet Bridge – The Saigon Heat, heading into their second season in ASEAN Basketball League action, enter the New Year on a high note after a dominating performance against the Sichuan Blue Whales with an 87-72 victory Sunday night at Tan Binh Sports Center.
The team got off to a quick start and put on a clinic against the bigger, but slower, opponents from China. The crowd seemed to be getting primed for New Year’s Eve by feeding the home side with energy throughout the first half, with Saigon ahead 54-30 at halftime.
The Heat led by as much as 28 in the third quarter, with a balanced attack of strong inside play as well as precise outside shooting. American Dior Lowhorn was a force for the Heat, scoring 28 points and hitting a perfect 7-for-7 from the free throw line. Filipino teammate Jai Reyes was a playmaker throughout the night, scoring 11 himself while dishing out 13 assists. Another American, David Palmer, paced the Heat with 21 points and 12 rebounds. Sichuan’s Zhang Zheng Hu scored 20 in the losing effort.
“I think we have a good home court advantage,” Lowhorn said of the raucous home crowd. “This was the best game we’ve played as a team.
“The main thing is to take everything a day at a time. We’d like to be in the top four in the league.”
A top four result would mean a trip to the playoffs, but head coach Jason Rabedeaux was coy about Saigon’s postseason prospects with the regular season home opener ahead on Jan. 12 at Tan Binh Sports Center against the Westports Malaysia Dragons.
“I’ve got to blend Vietnamese, Filipino, American and Filipino American players together, (because) you want to put good players on your team,” Rabedeaux said. “We’ve got a year of experience under our belt.
“I know that we will play hard. But it’s too early to tell (about the playoffs).”