Alab Pilipinas freeze Heat as postseason nears
The Saigon Heat were flying high, winners of four of their last five, heading into a big ASEAN Basketball League (ABL) Friday night.
Alab Pilipinas brought the Vietnamese squad back to Earth, with a narrow 74-70 victory to improve to 9-6 and seal the season series between the two teams.
The story of the game was the lethal three-ball shooting by Filipino sniper Val Acuna, who led all scorers with 23 points, including seven bombs from beyond the arc. Teammate Sampson Carter contributed 19 points and two rebounds. Lenny Daniel led the Heat with 22 points and 20 rebounds, while teammates David Arnold, Moses Morgan and Stefan Nguyen all logged double digits in points.
The Heat’s strategy to stifle Alab stars Bobby Ray Parks Jr. and James Thomas Hughes left Acuna all alone on multiple occasions, and he made the most of his looks. The Heat managed to stay in the game despite numerous turnovers on errant passes, with Daniel banking in a Hail Mary three-ball to close out the first half at the buzzer with Alab leading 38-31.
“When they made their shots, we didn’t answer,” Daniel conceded after the game. “At key times, they made the shots (they needed to).”
One notable update from head coach Tony Garbelotto was that import Jordan Henriquez would remain with the Heat through the remainder of the season, giving Saigon stability at the center position after three other players rotated throughout the position earlier on.
“My two years, I’ve played with seven different five-men,” Daniel said, hoping that the big man’s presence will bring the team success with six games left.
Alab have virtually clinched a spot in the playoffs, while the Heat’s 5-9 record leaves them in the fourth and final position, but remain within striking distance of the Kaohsiung Truth and Westports Malaysia Dragons. The Heat head to Singapore for a mid-week match with the Slingers, and return Saturday to face Malaysia at home.