Basketball

10:38 01/12/2016
The second half of the ASEAN Basketball League is underway and each game is becoming more and more action-packed as teams are jockeying for position in the standings. Slowly but surely, the playoff picture is starting to emerge. The elite teams are pulling ahead of the pack while the struggling squads are just simply trying to get more wins on the win column.
 
Right in the middle of the standings are the Saigon Heat who have a 5-5 record. With ten games remaining on their schedule, they are hoping to get a lock on a semifinals spot.

The Heat currently have a three-game win streak dating back to last year, beating the Mono Vampire Basketball Club twice before handing the Pilipinas MX3 Kings another loss last Wednesday.

“No offense to Mono and the Philippine team, but we want to be in the top 3,” Saigon Head Coach Anthony Garbelotto shared after his team dispatched the Kings. “We want to be talked about like in Bangkok, Singapore and Malaysia.”

A lot of Heat players have been stepping up in light of their current win streak. Import Lenny Daniel has been one of the most consistent players on the Saigon roster as he’s currently averaging 21 PPG and 13.56 RPG. William Creekmore has also been a revelation as of late. After producing relatively quiet numbers in their first seven games, Creekmore played an important role in their success for the past three contests. He recently posted a monster double-double performance against the Kings with his 24 points and 26 rebounds.

“We, like a lot of people, know that we have a lot of talent. And when we play, we’re really tough,” Coach Garbelotto continued.

Even though they have shown great potential all-season long, it seems that the Heat have yet to find consistency. In their five wins, three of them have come from the Mono Vampire and one from the Philippines – two teams who have been in the bottom of the standings for the entire season.

The Heat have lost thrice to the defending champions Hi-Tech Bangkok City and twice to the league-leaders Singapore Slingers. Their lone win against a .500 team was against the Westports Malaysia Dragons.

“We gotta get better, that’s the bottomline,” Coach Garbelotto pointed out. “But we just make so many basic errors.”

In their last game in the Philippines, Saigon committed a total of 22 turnovers, 14 coming in the first half alone.

“On Saturday in Malaysia we can’t have win if we have 22 turnovers. We have to get better on the road.”

The Heat’s match-up between the Dragons this weekend would serve as a test to see how far they’ve come this season. The Dragons are currently among the top contenders along with Hi-Tech and the Slingers.

“We just gotta be more ruthless like Bangkok and Singapore when they play on the road,” he said.

The English basketball coach also pointed out the paradox of his team – although they are a young and talented team, their lack of experience could get the better of them at times.

“Our youthfulness can us win a lot of games because we can wear teams down, but also we can lose games because we’re inexperienced and make stupid plays.”

Despite their struggles, the Saigon Heat coach has high hopes for his team. He knows that their game against the Dragons will be important and he wants to make sure that the Heat are on the same page.

“All I can do as a coach is keeping working hard at practice and to keep making those points,” he said about his team’s struggles. “And hope that somewhere along the line, say on Saturday, when we really want to get a win, we can really be talked about – that we can get that clutch win on the road which would then make everybody wake up and see us as a legitimate threat.”

As the ABL postseason draws near, you can expect that the Saigon Heat will bring out their best to secure that elusive playoffs spot.
Source: ABL

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