Saigon Heat’s win last night stunned not only its fans, but the whole ABL, no doubt. For Indonesia Warrior’s fans, ‘disappointment’ would be an understatement.

Tan Binh Stadium has always been flooded with Heat fans. I’d been there in three of their games but in all those games, they were outplayed by the visiting teams. Last night was different, according to my friends. My buddy, Martin texted “the guys (Heat) look real tough tonight”. Who wouldn’t be? They had just defeated San Miguel Beermen, ABL’s second strongest team this season. And that brought the fans more enthusiasm to cheer for the team, of course.

Photo from Kristine Rioflorido Burigsay

As soon as I got home (from work), I tuned in to Star Sports and I caught the third quarter already. The scores were close. Saigon Heat recovered on the second quarter (46-44) after the Warriors had made a 3-point lead on the first quarter. But the third quarter was not the home players’, there were too many loose balls, misses, and turnovers by the Warrriors which sealed that part of the game on their favor. Unlike the previous games that I’d watched, the fans stayed and were faithful. The cheers were louder and more expats were seen leading the locals in shouting “SAIGON HEAT- DEFENSE” thunderously. Whenever the heroes Smith, Sanz and Noy Javier held the ball and shoot them, people would rise on their seats and erupt unanimously. What was more stunning was the performance of the 100% Vietnamese player Minh Trieu! I’d never seen him that confident and swift in adding points for his team, from both inside and outside of the paint! Jones and Thorpe played more defensively trying to prevent the bigger and taller Thomas-Warriors’ lead scorer.

ABL’s website read:
“After being down by 8 points in the last 30 seconds of the game, the Heat managed to pull an incredible comeback to defeat the Indonesia Warriors 88-86.

I had been watching in the couch the whole time but at the last 30 seconds, I couldn’t help but stand up in anticipation that my team was going to show a miracle. And it happened:

“The drama started when Allan Salangsang missed two free throws with 32 seconds to go in the final quarter while the Warriors were up 86-78. On the next possesion, Jonathan Jones made a lay-up while being fouled by Jonathan Smith but Jones missed his free throw. 

Mario Wuysang had a chance to stretch the Warriors lead back to 8 points but he missed two free throws which led to a three point shot by Heat’s guard Minh Trieu to make it a one possesion gameat 83-86. Wuysang opened the door for the Heat once again after missing both of his free throws again and John Smith took full advantage by calmly hitting a corner three point shot to tie the game at 86 causing the fans at Tan Binh Stadium to erupt. Trieu and Smith finished with 11 points each. 

After Smith’s 3 point shot, Amin Prihantono made a crucial mistake when he carelessly inbound the ball and Rob Sanz was able to get a hand on the ball. Prihantono and Sanz both tried to get the loose ball but a foul was called on Prihantono. Thorpe, who has been the Heat’s clutch-hitter, made another big play. After Sanz missed both of his free throws, the Warriors did not box out Thorpe and he flew to the basket to tip-in Sanz’s missed free throw to make it 88-86 for the Heat with 1 second left, helping the Heat to stay alive in the playoffs race. “

Read more from ABL News:

http://www.aseanbasketballleague.com/news/detail/6951/game-59-heat-makes-late-comeback-to-stun-warriors

My son and wife felt the electrifying moment. Tanh Binh gymnasium erupted with cheers. The camera man then showed the audience who couldn’t keep themselves in their seats, shouting and jumping to the victory of Vietnam’s first delegation in the Asean Basketball League. At that moment, I thought: Saigon Heat showed the real Vietnamese spirit. No retreat, no surrender. And it paid off!

So now, Saigon Heat’s ABL standing has improved. See you in the playoffs, HEAT!