Saigon Heat missed the chance to win their first ASEAN Basketball League (ABL) title after losing to Hong Kong Eastern in game three of the final on Tuesday night.
The record was 1-1 after each team got one victory in the first two games. In the third and final game, Saigon had the home advantage but did not have a good start as they let Hong Kong lead 24-9 after the first quarter. The Heat failed to come back in the next three quarters.
Evan Gilyard carried Saigon when he scored 41 points in the second quarter and continued to play well in the third. But that was not enough for Saigon to avoid defeat. In the fourth quarter, Saigon tried to shorten the gap to 10 points, but the opponent got multiple rebounds and eventually won the game 73-60.
The overall 2-1 record brought Hong Kong their second ABL title, after the first in 2017.
Coming in second is the best result so far for Saigon in the ABL. This season, Saigon topped their group with 11 wins and three losses. In the semifinals, they made a comeback to win Singapore Slingers 2 games agaist 1 game.
The 2023 ABL has eight pariticipating teams, including the Saigon Heat, Singapore Slingers, Bangkok Tigers, Hong Kong Eastern, Macau Black Bears, Louvre Indonesia, Zamboanga Valientes (Philippines) and NS Matrix (Malaysia).
Four teams, Saigon, Hong Kong, NS Matrix and the Singapore Slingers, advanced to the semifinals. In the finals, Saigon coach Van Pelt was absent due to personal reasons. The great form of Gilyard and Hassan Thomas was not enough against Hong Kong’s foreign players, especially Trocha Morelos, who was the most valuable player of the finals.
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