Viet Nam News
HÀ NỘI — Hanoi Buffaloes and Danang Dragons won the first leg of playoffs of the Việt Nam Basketball Association (VBA) League on Sunday.
Though playing on home turf, HCM City Wings could not prove their power as the players were not at their best and lacked teamwork.
The Buffaloes, known for their counterattack tactics, limited the Wings’ best attackers Justin Young and Jaywuan Hill through the first set and went ahead to lead 21-17, much to the surprise of the fans.
In the second set, Trevor Berkeley and Nguyễn Phú Hoàng dodged the Wings’ confused defenders and helped finish at 40-38. The Wings came back strongly in the third set with tight combinations and sharp attacks, but it was not enough to level the score. The Buffaloes continued to do better and extend the gap to 62-54.
The hosts made many mistakes in the last set and failed to stop the Buffaloes’ counterattacks, ending with a 64-84 defeat.
The Buffaloes are in an advance position ahead of their second-leg match on Thursday at the gymnasium of the University of Science and Technology.
In the other playoff match, on Saturday, the Dragons, who entered the last-four round as the bottom team, defeated title favourites Saigon Heat 76-73 at the Canadian International School’s arena in HCM City.
The two teams spent a lot of time in the first set checking each other out. After half time, it was only 6-5 for the Dragons. Pace gained in the second half, with the Heat’s Miller Darrell and Viet Arnold attacking strongly and bringing a narrow lead of 18-17.
However, the Heat found it hard to break the Dragons’ tough defence after Darrell was rested in the second half. On the other side, Joly Rudolphe scored consecutive points for the Dragons with his close-range throws, helping his team to reach 34-33.
As the more experienced team, the Heat quickly formed up in the third set, with Nguyễn Thành Nhân and Darrell back in the field, pushing the score to 43-39 six minutes after the start. But Jimmy Kiên and Đàm Huy Đại from the Dragons answered immediately with impressive break-ins and levelled the score 50-50.
The final set was tense for the hosts. The Dragons easily pocketed eight points in the early second, while the Heat netted only two. Đại and Rudolphe silenced thousands of Heat fans with outstanding throws to gain the 63rd point.
The Heat’s Viet Arnold made his fans cheer with three three-point throws, taking his team to a 65-63 lead. However, the Dragons limited his game with effective attacks and gained domination at 73-69, after the hosts made several mistakes.
Darrell brought back hope for the Heat, equalising the score at 73-73 when there was only 35 seconds left, but the Dragons won penalties in the last second, which Rudolphe did not waste. He added three points to the Dragons’ bag and closed the match at 76-73.
Their second-leg match will be held tomorrow at the Military Zone 5 Gymnasium. — VNS