Heat bench get minutes in season-ending loss
For the Singapore Slingers and Saigon Heat, the final game of the regular season provided rest for some and rare playing time for others.
With both teams having clinched playoff berths, the Slingers’ 86-71 victory would have no consequence on postseason rankings. The Heat would end the season with an 8-12 record, locked into a first-round ASEAN Basketball League (ABL) series with the Hong Kong Eastern Long Lions.
Superstar Lenny Daniel got a rare night off for the Heat, allowing former Olympian Nguyen Van Hung a rare ABL start. The taekwondo master is also expected to play a key role for Vietnam’s national team at the SEA Games in Malaysia this August, and put in a workmanlike effort with six points and seven rebounds in 31 minutes. Bui Quoc Tan, another domestic star, logged more than 13 minutes of playing time and potted five points.
Slingers star Justin Howard dominated from start to finish, with an eye-popping 39 points and 19 rebounds. Singaporean Leon Kwek turned heads with a 13-point performance, while Xavier Alexander matched his 13 points and raised 10 rebounds for a double-double. Jordan Henriquez paced the Heat with 25 points and 13 rebounds.
The Heat came out flat before a packed house at Ho Xuan Huong Stadium, normally the home of their crosstown rivals in the VBA, the Ho Chi Minh City Wings. Daniel was notable by his absence, with the Heat sluggish on offence and only managing a 29-point first half. Singapore never trailed throughout the game, with former Heat big man Howard scoring at will.
“I wound up at the four-spot,” said Moses Morgan in the reshuffled lineup, who finished with six points at a different position. “(Nguyen Van) Hung got some good minutes.
Morgan said that the team would look different in Hong Kong, keying on Lions’ stars Marcus Elliott and Tyler Lamb. Game one will be April 5 in Hong Kong, with the second game April 8 at CIS Stadium in Saigon.