Viet Nam News
HÀ NỘI — Danang Dragons made magic to pocket the first ticket to the finals of the Việt Nam Basketball Association (VBA) League.
The team from the central city of Đà Nẵng came from behind to beat top title favourite Saigon Heat 86-80 in the second leg of the semifinals on November 2 on the former’s home turf.
With an aggregate result of 162-153, the Dragons secured the first national final berth. They now wait to see who they will compete against, following the second semifinal tonight.
The Dragons appeared confident while hosting the Heat at the Military Zone 5 Gymnasium as they received the support of thousands of local fans, following a 76-73 win from the first leg match last week.
The visitors, meanwhile, tried hard to prove they were on top of the national basketball map.Both sides played a game of cat-and-mouse in the first set, which ended 17-17.
The Dragons quickly went ahead in the second set, leading 27-23. The Heat worked hard but failed to stop giant Joly Rudolphe.
They made faults and gave free throws to the hosts.The Heat fought back with Miller Darrell leading rapid-fire attacks and scoring a number of two-point throws to push his team ahead at 44-37.
The visitors then had a comfortable start in the third set, with Trần Đăng Khoa pocketing three points with his throw at the 3m line. Viet Arnold then came into the court and proved he was the star of the team with a series of shots.The Dargons’ Horace Nguyen and Jimmy Kien could only narrow the gap in the last minutes of the third set, which closed 61-58 in favour of the Heat.
The first three minutes of the final set saw the Heat safely leading 67-60 and getting set to dominate the remainder of the game.However, coach Donte Hill of the Dragons had other ideas.The hosts tried to play a defence game and all those seeking points for the visitors were blocked.
The Dragons successfully narrowed the score before going ahead to lead 81-80 just one minute to the end. Darrell was rested at that critical moment, creating a hole in the Heat’s power. The team were unable to stop the Dragons from scoring.
Rudolphe pocketed five more points to end the Heat’s hope of a berth in the finals. Rudolphe, who tallied 33 points and 22 assists, was the most valuable player of the match. Teammate Jimmy Kiên scored 20, while Horace Nguyen contributed 17.
The second semis will see Hanoi Buffaloes competing against HCM City Wings at the Hà Nội University of Science and Technology.
The Buffaloes won the first leg match 84-64. A draw is enough for them to reach the finals. — VNS