All Saigon Heat import Lenny Daniel could do was lift his hands to the sky, grateful for finally getting a free throw to go in.
That free throw came with only 3:42 left in the first quarter. It was their first point of the game. It was that kind of afternoon for the Saigon Heat.
Buoyed by a fantastic performance all around, the Westports Malaysia Dragons routed the Saigon Heat, winning by a whopping 49 points, 109-60.
“Last time we played those guys, those guys beat us,” said Dragons import Reggie Johnson. “We kinda took it personally, the way they handled themselves after they won the game, they celebrated during the game, it kinda burned us inside. We made sure that the next time we played them it was gonna be a good game and we held our bargain on that.
The decisive win by the Dragons is easily the biggest margin of victory ever by the Malaysian squad, and in the entire ABL season. The Dragons raced out to a 15-0 lead to start the game, as Calvin Godfrey and Matthew Wright took turns scoring at will versus the Heat. Only Johnson’s two fouls kept the Dragons from piling it on further, and the quarter ended with the Dragons leading 21-7.
The 2nd quarter wasn’t any better for the Heat. The Dragons just kept pouring it on, as Wright and Jason Brickman kept hitting shot after shot. In the quarter, Wright nailed four triples, Brickman added three, and Johnson added one for good measure. Frustration was on the face of Saigon’s Daniel, as he got a technical foul in the quarter for pushing a Dragon after missing an easy shot.
Missed shots was the norm rather than the exception for the Heat, as they failed to convert a single trey at the half, and shot a miserable 8/35 from the field for 22.9%. The Dragons were the polar opposite, as they shot a robust 21/36 from the field, and shot 60% from the perimeter going 9/15
“We just wanted to be aggressive and attack the basket,” shared star guard Brickman. The break helped, but we were all mad about the last game against Singapore. That’s all we were thinking about for three weeks. We wanted to get back on the court and get a win because we ended the year with a loss. It was important for us to start with a win.
The Heat made an early third quarter push to try and trim down the lead, however there was no let up by the Dragons. Johnson and Wright made timely buckets that kept Malaysia comfortably up, leading by more than 20 the entire way. The quarter ended with the Dragons up 28, effectively wrapping this game up after 3 quarters.
The Dragons continued to pour it on in the fourth, as they were merciless with their attack. The normally fiery Saigon Heat head coach Anthony Garbelotto was a picture of resignation, as he removed his imports and star players with half of the fourth quarter to go. The Dragons followed suit, and yet again pushed the lead further. The lead actually reached 50 with 1:04 to go, but a triple by Huy Dai Dam brought the lead down, until it ended at 49.
“I made sure the guys were focused. We just wanted it more, I felt like” said Dragons import Reggie Johnson. “We got a tough stretch coming up. This is our first game of 2016, and we wanted to set the tone for how we’re going to play defense. Tonight we did good, but we’re gonna watch film and get better. “
The Dragons will look to build on the momentum of this huge win, as they take on Pilipinas MX3 Kings on January 13. The Heat will be back in action on the same date as they take on Hi-Tech Bangkok City.