The Saigon Heat had an embarrassing start to their playoff campaign last Wednesday as the top-seeded Hong Kong Eastern Long Lions sent out a strong message to the rest of the 2016-17 ASEAN Basketball League (ABL).
The Long Lions dragged the Heat out of the building with a record-setting 114-74 win in Game 1 of their semi-finals series, the biggest winning margin and the highest point total in ABL playoffs history.
Hong Kong intends to close out the series on the road when they visit the Heat for Game 2 on Saturday, April 8. Game time is set for 5:00PM at the CIS Arena in Ho Chi Minh City.
It appeared that the Heat were going to gjve the Long Lions a good challenge after trailing by just four after the first quarter, 24-20.
But after that point, the floodgates opened for the more superior Hong Kong squad as they outscored the Heat the rest of the way, 90-54.
Marcus Elliott was in his highly-efficient best, scoring 23 points on just 14 shots while also dishing out 13 assists. Tyler Lamb netted 23 points as well, making 3-of-6 from beyond three-point area. Josh Boone tallied double-double of 21 points and 11 boards.
The biggest story of the lopsided affair was Heritage import Steven Guinchard, who came off the bench and was on fire from downtown, hitting a perfect 6-of-6 to finish with 22 points. He added 8 rebounds, 2 assists, and 2 steals, providing abundant help in his team’s destruction of the Heat.
Lenny Daniel was the only bright spot for the Heat as he finished with 32 points on 11-of-16 shooting, 11 rebounds, and 3 assists.
However, Daniel was unable to draw support from any of his teammates. David Arnold was the only other double-digit scorer with 10 points. Worse, he and Moses Morgan (7 points, 3-of-10 FG) combined for 12 turnovers. No one outside of Daniel shot above 50% from the field too.
The Heat haven’t recorded a win yet in three playoff appearances in the league, and would like to avoid suffering the same fate they did in the last two post-seasons where they lost the semi-finals, 2-0 both times.
Much needs to be addressed if the Heat wish to send the series back to Hong Kong for a decider on Tuesday, April 11. It wouldn’t be any easy task given how Hong Kong showcased its full potential, but Saturday’s game would be an ideal opportunity for the Heat to bounce back, extend the series, and prove they belong in the playoff conversation.